Body-Worn Cameras for Police Accountability: Opportunities and Risks

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Brucato, B. (2015). Policing made visible: Mobile technologies and the importance of point of view. Surveillance & Society, 13(3/4), 455.

            Ben Brucato discussed the use of surveillance cameras as a method of ensuring police visibility. On-officer cameras improve accountability due to the factor of mechanical objectivity. The article explains the design decisions that led to the creation of on-officer cameras. Brucato also outlines reasons why police officers were keen to embrace new technologies. Critics of surveillance cameras claimed that such devices infringed on privacy. Officers also lacked the discretion to operate body cameras. Police departments were forced to disclose footage for the sake of accountability. The author argues that the usefulness of surveillance footage depended on the person’s point of view.

Coudert, F., Butin, D., & Le Métayer, D. (2015). Body-worn cameras for police accountability: Opportunities and risks. Computer Law & Security Review, 31(6), 749-762.

            Fanny Coudert, Denis Butin, and Daniel Le Métayerc examined the risks and opportunities associated with body-worn cameras. Such devices were often used to guarantee accountability by reducing corruption, discrimination, or violence. Critics argued that body-worn cameras infringed on the privacy of police agents and individuals. The researchers analyzed the application and effectiveness of police bodycams in France, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The authors claimed that body-worn cameras were reliable sources of evidence. Police officers were motivated to improve their behavior by avoiding violence conduct.

Koper, C. S. (2016). Advancing research and accountability on police use of deadly force. Criminology & Public Policy, 15(1), 187-191.

            Christopher S. Koper argues that the use of deadly force is quite widespread among police officers. Law enforcement agents are permitted to use deadly force if it is necessary to protect civilians. However, the author discusses the controversies associated with such actions. The article references recent shooting incidents in Chicago, Baltimore, and Ferguson (Missouri). Researchers in the criminal justice field are hampered by insufficient data and a lack of transparency. Minority groups in high-crime communities suffer from the lack of documented information. Hence, the author claims that police should be legally bound to report all deadly force incidents to improve legitimacy and accountability.

Sabel, C. F., & Simon, W. H. (2016). The Duty for Responsible Administration and the Problem of Police Accountability. Yale Journal on Regulation, 33, 165.

            Charles F. Sabel and William H. Simon discussed how legislators can contribute to police accountability. Initiatives such as problem-oriented policing contributed towards more secure neighborhoods. Law enforcement agents were also warned against discriminatory practices. The authors analyzed court-supervised reforms in Cincinnati and New York to illustrate the impact of administrative and doctrinal changes. The Cincinnati intervention enabled police officers to show greater accountability. The authors claimed that administrative practices contributed to the actions and attitudes of law enforcement agents. Police accountability was quite difficult since law enforcement agencies were allowed to have unique processes.

Schuck, A. M. (2017). Prevalence and predictors of surveillance cameras in law enforcement: the importance of stakeholders and community factors. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 28(1), 41-60.

            Arnie M. Schuck examined the predictors and prevalence of surveillance cameras in law enforcement. The author analyzed data from over 2,500 police departments and other related agencies. It was found that the adoption of surveillance cameras was neither comprehensive nor uniform. Agency officials were quite inconsistent in their implementation of surveillance technologies. The author showed that the use of inexpensive and small camera could improve police accountability when interacting with the public. Widespread implementation of surveillance technologies would create a democratization effect. Hence, all police departments will use similar guidelines.

August 21, 2023


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