Advantages and Disadvantages of Police Body Cameras

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The 21st century is very sensitive to technological advancements. Cameras are everywhere, and people must learn to embrace this development. When most people carry smartphones are different capture scenes secretly, some events are recorded in real time and conveyed to other places through the internet. The police are also adopting a strategy of recording events in real time and relaying the images and videos to the police headquarters with the use of spy cameras. Body-worn cameras can record different happenings in real time, and this innovation has received criticism and appreciation from different people including government agencies. Different departments in us have been using body-worn cameras for some time now, and it is clear that the cameras cause more good than harm.

Body mounted cameras are portable, and for this reason, they can be carried conveniently wherever the police officer go. They have a capacity of up to 64 GB of storage, and this ensures that much information is stored in these devices. The cameras are also clear and can record different incidents. When the officers carry out operations which involve the public, the body-mounted cameras can easily monitor the activities to determine if the officers violate the law or if they execute their operations with fairness(Adams and Mastracci). In most cases, the body cameras are mounted on the chest area of the police officers, and this allows the cameras to have a wide view of happenings. However, they can be mounted to hats, helmets, sunglasses, uniform collars, and lapels. The public cannot easily notice the cameras, and this means that events will happen without the fear of being noticed. For instance, Safety Vision’s Prima Facie body camera is one of the most effective body cameras used by the police in different parts of the world especially the US and Canada. The Department of Homeland Security uses body cameras in many cases, and research has shown that the cameras aid in different investigations where people fear being noticed. The cameras are integrated with an LCD screen and a microphone to record both sound and videos. The cameras have the power to record events even when there is limited light, especially at night.

There are many advantages related with the body cameras which the police use. The transparency of the police officers during routine operations such as investigations for homicide cases and control of traffic is guaranteed when the body cameras are used. The head office can see what transpires between the officers on shift and the citizens. Additionally, the decisions made by the officers during critical situations can be evaluated and guided. Homicide cases, for instance, require a keen analysis of details to establish the causes of certain issues. When the citizens who engage with the officers claim that they were treated unethically or unfairly, the information recorded on camera can act as evidence against these accusations (Ariel). The cameras are used as watchdogs during critical operations especially those which involve gunfire. The police officers can be directed from the office on what decisions to make to make the operations a success. The body cameras also guarantee good public relations with the police agencies involved in different cases (Stoughton). This is the reason the FBI is respected in carrying out investigations than other agencies. There are instances when the police officers go to crime scenes without the official police attires and engage with the public in a friendly way to gather information on some issues. When the body cameras are used in such instances, the statements made by victims and suspects can be recorded without them noticing. Witnesses can also provide their honest opinions on some cases, and all these are captured on video. The valuable evidence recorded in such cases cannot be refuted in court.

The police body cameras also have different shortcomings. The privacy of civilians is tampered with when the body cameras are used. When crucial information, for instance, lands on wrong hands, key witnesses get killed. This is a crucial concern which needs to be addressed by the police bodies (Birds and Sousa). People fear public exposure, and when they learn that the police are using body cameras on them, they hide from the public and this locks out critical information.

Most complaints filed by citizens against the police involve the police officers without cameras since they are likely to be involved in acts which are against the law. This means that body cameras increase the credibility of police officers when doing their job and makes them make wise decisions which are fair at the same time(Wood). According to Reuters, the police body cameras cost around $500 to purchase and an additional $1500 for data storage for a single unit. This means that when implementing such reforms that involve the purchase of body cameras, police agencies should weigh different options in a bid to ensure the process is economical (Elliott ). More than none states have implemented the use of body cameras for police forces while similar legislation is pending in 15 other states.

Research has shown that body cameras have little impact on the behavior of police officers. When the officers are aware that their movements and operations are monitored, they pretend to be good people, but when they get a chance to express their true nature, they break the law a lot. Corruption cases have reduced over the years with the introduction of the body cameras, and it doesn’t mean that the police officers have become more ethical or because the citizens have become more law-abiding. According to psychology, people generally fear being monitored, and they hide their true nature when they know that cameras are around. The Florida incident is one of the instances where the importance of body cameras was witnessed while in the Las Vegas shooting, the body cameras failed a bit. When the police use body cameras, they compromise privacy at the expense of accountability, and this is a wise decision(Mateescu, et al). However, in the recent past when terrorist attacks are rampant, privacy issues have received greater attention among civilians while accountability issues are regarded vital among police and other government investigation agencies.

In conclusion, there are many issues surrounding police officers wearing body cameras. The body cameras are expensive to purchase and maintain, but they do a great job in managing security, accountability, and fairness. Most civilians are opposed to these reforms, and they fear for their privacy. The police should use body cameras more, but they should ensure the cameras are not visible to the civilians. Police officers who use excessive force when doing their duties should be prosecuted.

Works Cited

Adams, Ian, and Sharon Mastracci. "Police Body-Worn Cameras: Effects on Officers’ Burnout and Perceived Organizational Support."Police Quarterly, 2018, p. 109861111878398.

Ariel, Barak. "Increasing Cooperation With the Police Using Body Worn Cameras."Police Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 3, 2016, pp. 326-362.

Birds, Jonathan M., and William H. Sousa."Police Use of Body Cameras."Oxford Handbooks Online, 2016.

Elliott, Jaycee. "Body-Worn Cameras: A Step Toward Trust and Legitimacy for Campus Police."2015.

Mateescu, Alexandra, et al. "Police Body-Worn Cameras."2017.

Stoughton, Seth W. "Police Body-Worn Cameras."SSRN Electronic Journal, 2017.

Wood, Stacy. "Police Body Cameras."Emotions, Technology, and Design, 2016, pp. 227-239.

December 12, 2023

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