Table of Contents
Position Statement: Police Should Wear Body Cameras
The main role of policemen is to facilitate the process of law enforcement in a society which involves searching of criminals, capturing and keeping them in custody before they are handed to the judicial system for trials. Policemen have also been assigned the duty of protecting citizens from harm and ensuring the maintenance of law and order. Based on a survey in 2013, about 75% police departments do not employ body cameras for their operations (Miller et al., 2017). While on duty, police units keep encountering various situations that are worth documenting for their own good and the overall good of the society. It is for this reason that several debates have been held to discuss whether the police should have body cameras to help in capturing various situations that they often encounter in their line of duty. While police officers are assigned significant power devoid of monitoring and supervision, it is integral to include body cameras as an imperative part of their operations to improve the quality of delivery of service and provide evidence in conflicting accounts of events that take place during police operations.
One of the main reasons why the police should wear body cameras is to help in tracing of criminals. In various occasions the police have been humiliated by criminals who later disappear leaving behind no trace. Some criminals do escape from the cells where they have been kept in custody. It has been very hard for the police to trace such criminals without any documented photo or video that reveals the identities of the criminals as it is difficult to trace criminals by describing their appearance without any photographic evidence. Because of such occurrences it is advisable to make body cameras a necessity to all the policemen. A good example of evasion from police arrest can be seen in the Italian settings where the members of a criminal group by the name ‘Mafia’ would often evade the police and then change their identity by introducing new features like beards and moustache on their faces. This could help them in evading police for over ten years (Hay, 2015). With the existence of police cameras, it will be possible to handle such occurrences by recording the physical appearance of the unknown criminals and using their photos to trace them.
We can do it today.
Another reason why the police should have body cameras is for the purpose of overseeing police in their actions. The police have been accused for brutality and hate crime against various citizens. In most cases the police happen to get away with brutality due to lack of documented evidence of their acts. Police uniforms should therefore be equipped with a body camera that will enable the staff assigned the duties of overseeing the actions of the police to have a clear view of the actions of the police while on duty and help in bringing them to book in cases where they have gone beyond their limits hence will help in preventing the use of force by the police. It has been tested and proven that body cameras can help in controlling police brutality. A random experiment carried out with Rialto police Department to determine the effect of body cameras on the relations between the police and the public indicated that use of force by police on suspects was lower by 50% in the shifts that involved the use of body cameras hence this is an indication that body cameras can be of great use in the attempts to curb police brutality (Sutherland & Ariel, 2016). The body cameras can, thus, be applied for quality and control operations by the supervisors of law enforcement operations.
The use of body cameras should also be adopted by the police units to help in various trials that involve criminals. In various scenarios criminals have always shifted blames to the police and even accused them for hate crimes in incidences where they have been rightfully arrested. Criminals have constantly denied the complains and charges against them due to lack of enough evidence. Criminals have always escaped charges by denying the allegations that have been made against them by the police and even suing the police for accusing them falsely which has led to the dismissal of police. The presence of cameras in the body of the police will help in solving such occurrences as the body cameras will provide a narration of how events unfolded and the types of words that were uttered hence helping in solving of various cases where criminals have occasionally twisted the trial processes by coming up with lies and different stories against the police. A good example of police cameras helping in the trial process occurred in 2014 where the body camera of Officer William Bram recorded gunshots and sounds from a very a dark room where two women were being raped with guns to corked at them. The video later showed the two criminals escaping through the window and this provided an evidence in the trial process (“Body Camera Footage Plays Vital Role as Evidence”, 2017). Therefore, the footage that is derived from body cameras can be used in enhancing the prosecution of individuals through the provision of evidence, particularly for forensic investigators and prosecutors.
Other instances where police body cameras have been of help are: fighting domestic violence in Texas by equipping more than 300 police with body cameras, getting to hear the side of the story in a case where a criminal had twisted the case against him in Arizona. It has also been noted that the presence of camera has improved the general behavior of the public as it makes them know that they are being documented and cases can be filed against them hence making them behave well for fear of being arrested (“5 ways body-worn cameras have helped police officers”, 2014). Moreover, the inclusion of body cameras is bound to enhance the operation of law enforcement officers through providing a channel for monitoring and examination of their operations.
From the above illustrations it can be noted that police body cameras are of great help as they have helped in settling issues that have been marred with denials and counter accusations. Police body cameras should be adopted to aid in smooth operation of police in their day to day activities. Body cameras are bound to play an imperative role in enhancing the capacity of the criminal justice system to prosecute offenders who are members of the law enforcement community. Hence, there should be additional investment and emphasis in the inclusion of body cameras as an integral part of the operation of law enforcement officers.
- 5 ways body-worn cameras have helped police officers. (2014). PoliceOne.
- Body Camera Footage Plays Vital Role as Evidence. (2017). Govtech.com.
- Hay, M. (2015). How Some Criminals Evade the Cops for Decades. Vice.
- Miller, L., Hess, K., & Orthmann, C. (2017). Community policing: Partnerships for problem solving. Nelson Education.
- Sutherland, A., & Ariel, B. (2016). How Body Cameras Curbed Police Use of Force in Rialto | Essay | Zócalo Public Square. Zócalo Public Square.