Amid the Ferguson Shooting, Many Say Police Body Cameras Are the Answer
After the recent police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, MO, the nation is calling for an increase in car camera systems among local police agencies. Many believe that if a camera had been installed in the car of the officer involved in the shooting, there would be a lot more clarity in this case that has fueled riots and demonstrations across the country. Police in car video systems certainly have benefits, including providing a clear and accurate depiction of police interactions with the public. They also help police agencies keep track of police misconduct and can improve professionalism among officers. While in car camera systems might shed some light on disputes like the one taking place in Ferguson, some believe that they are not enough.
Residents of Milwaukee are pushing for legislation to require all police officers to wear body cameras while on duty, and 2,000 people have already signed a petition in its favor. A pilot program is already in motion to equip officers in the area with cameras in the upcoming year.
Advocates of police body cameras say that these cameras would decrease the number of incidents like the one in Ferguson. They also note the it would likely improve police behavior and public opinion of police departments around the country.
Opponents, on the other hand, argue that attaching a camera to every policeman would actually make them less approachable, causing greater distrust in the police system. They believe people would be more hesitant to talk to police knowing that everything they say and do is being recorded.
Regardless of where people stand on the issue, implementation is not going to be fast or easy. Several matters need to be taken into consideration, including many legal aspects of the cameras. How long video recordings can be kept, who is allowed to view the material, and what it will be used for are just a few of the questions that must be answered before police body cameras can be successfully launched.