So, 717 people have been shot and killed by police in 2019. Look at that number again, 717. In 2019 alone, 717 people, who may have been breaking the law but nonetheless, lost their life by the hands of a police officer. 992 people were shot and killed by police in 2018. There were only 23 days in 2018 where the police didn’t kill anybody. Police should be required to wear body cameras, it should be mandatory. If a police officer is doing their job correctly, they wouldn’t have a problem wearing a body camera. Police officers wearing body cameras have the potential to save lives, could potentially help everyone, the police, the victim, the civilians out of some situations. The truth? It is absolutely terrifying to be scared to the people who are supposed to be protecting us. Police should be required to wear body cameras to help reduce lives lost. Body cameras can hold police responsible for their actions and resolve cases quicker.
Police body cameras are small cameras, worn on an officer’s chest or head, with a microphone used to capture sound and pictures which can be used for live footage. Police body cameras are used around the world, they made their way into the United States in 2012 has a trial run in California. By 2015, 95 percent of large police departments reported they were using body cameras because of the high number of police shootings. Former President Barak Obama implemented a program, Department of Justice’s Body-Worn Camera Policy, which helps supply police stations with the needed equipment. The program spent over 58 million dollars between 2015 and 2017. According to the National Institute of Justice, there are over sixty models of police body cameras for purchase in the United States. The cameras provide an independent record of police-civilian encounters. Forty- five states and the District of Columbia have legislated how body-worn camera data is addressed under open record laws.
Police officer convictions are increasing but cop killings roughly remain consistent, unfortunately. Police have killed over 14,000 people in the last thirteen years. Although the body cameras have been in the spotlight lately if they would have been in play a long time ago maybe some of these deaths could have been avoided. Aaron Dean fatally shot 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, on October 12, 2019, as she played video games with her nephew. He was called for a routine check because a neighbor was concerned because her door was open. He was in fact wearing a body camera which helps prove the case in transparency. Ms. Jefferson is able to receive justice for her wrongful death because the video on the camera proves she was murdered in cold blood. With the help of the footage from the camera, the judge recently found the officer guilty. In the case of Alton Sterling, which happened in Baton Rouge, LA on July 5, 2016, he landed into an altercation with the two officers on the scene which ended in his death. The footage from the body cameras shows how Mr. Sterling was resisting arrest but also shows the officer shooting him twice. Although in this case, the judge found the officers not guilty, the evidence is there to be seen and to be analyzed to be used in court. Police are supposed to be the people in law to make us feel safe, not make us feel scared. The body camera helps to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the situation.
Police body cameras have many upsides to them. They can ensure the safety of the public and the police by using audio and video which can be saved and used later. Majority of people act in different ways when it is known they are being watched. If a civilian knows an officer is wearing a body camera, they may act different to ensure they are not doing anything law breaking. The civilian will be less prone to attack or use violence toward a police officer. If a police officer is wearing a body camera, it may cause them to become more aware of their actions. According to a study in California, found a 50 percent reduction in the total number of use of force incidents by police officers when body cameras are worn. Body cameras can improve police accountability and protect officers from false accusations. In Texas, a police officer was fired and charged with murder after body camera footage was released contradicting his statement in the shooting of an unarmed youth. In Maryland, three police officers were suspended after their body camera footage showed them plating fake evidence at crime scenes. Body camera footage can truly make or break a case. Police body cameras make a great tool for learning. For example, if someone is in training to become a police officer, they can have the potential officer wear the body camera so they can use the footage to look back. The body cameras can be used to ensure the potential police officer is being trained correctly.
There are always two sides to everything, so body cameras are no acceptation. Police body cameras can negatively affect their physical and mental health. Some civilians may respond in a negative way to knowing they are being filmed, especially people who may be intoxicated or suffering from mental health problems. According to the European Journal of Criminology found that assaults on police officers were 14 percent higher when body cameras are in use. Police officers have to wear plenty of equipment such as escape hoods, mace, flashlights, batons, radio, handcuffs, and their gun so adding another item for the officers to wear can physically be hard and make their uniforms heavier than they already are. The body cameras can malfunction which can cause electric shock from damaged equipment. Police officers have one of the hardest, toughest jobs. It can already be mentally exhausting, so knowing you are being watched constantly can make an officer on edge. Police body cameras can also invade the privacy of citizens, expose victims, and witnesses of crimes. Recording police-public encounters can lead to the public expose or private medical conditions, victims of rape or domestic abuse, or informants. A study in Oklahoma, states that potential witnesses were reluctant to talk in the presence of a body-worn camera, even when the device was switches off because they feel like their privacy is invaded.
In conclusion, police body cameras are a necessary evil. They have their pros and cons but they can be very beneficial when it comes to justice being served. It makes it easier to prove the situation instead of speculating. The facts are right there in the footage. Many cases have been solved because of body camera footage. Police officers should be required to wear body cameras for a few reasons, reduction in complaints, improved behavior, a clear picture of what is going on, and increased transparency. Many people have lost their lives on account of police shootings so wearing body cameras could help police officers be more aware of what they are doing. They can be a very expensive cost, but they could potentially save lives. If police officers and citizens are being watched, we are both more liable to do the right thing. The truth about police body cameras are yes they can be a pain, yes they can cause problems, yes they invade privacy but they make police be more transparent, make police be held accountable for their actions, and make it more likely for everyone to receive the justice they deserve.