Body Cameras: The Impact on Law Enforcement and the Community
In society today we sometimes hear about the stories of misconduct or use of force between law enforcement officers and members of the community. It is extremely important for law enforcement to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with the community. This relationship allows the public to look at police officers in a different light. Police officers are hardworking people from all ethnic backgrounds that took an oath to serve and protect the community. Maintaining a positive relationship will further prevent violence and discrimination between both the community and law enforcement. In the past few years, the events of the shooting of Michael Brown and the death of Eric Garner brought severe controversy to law enforcement. These events caused law enforcement to reevaluate their policies and discuss the need to use tools of technology such as body cameras. The topic of body cameras has been very controversial, but law enforcement believes that the impacts of using these cameras will be great not just for themselves but for the public as well. Law enforcement wants to use body cameras as a tool to make a widespread change and improve relations between the community and law enforcement. Body cameras will improve police and community interactions, capture footage to prove or disprove allegations against officers, and be used as a tool during the training of beginner police officers. Using technology such as body cameras will be a great way to keep peace and transparency between law enforcement and the public.
In the year 2014, law enforcement agencies all across the United States experienced severe ridicule over the two deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. On August 9, 2014, unarmed Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer named Darren Wilson. The second death was of Eric Garner who died on July 14, 2014, after he was put in a chokehold, by New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo. The death of these two men raised questions about law enforcement officers and the police discretion on the use of force. After these events, law enforcement agencies knew they had to make a change in order to protect the lives of the community and police officers. Law enforcement started to discuss the use of different technology devices such as body cameras. These cameras would be placed on the officers to accurately record every conversation and interaction between police officers and members of the public. Law enforcement officials believe that these devices could decrease police brutality and any allegations of misconduct by recording an officer on duty. The footage recorded by the cameras would log the time and location of each officer when on duty. The data would then be stored for law enforcement officials to examine if needed to.
Body cameras are a great tool to not only keep law enforcement officers recorded and accounted for but have many positive benefits for both the community and police officers. These cameras are a great tool to help deter violence and keep police officers and the community safe. Naturally, people act differently when they know they are being filmed and recorded. The article by Anthony A. Braga, it explains that when police are wearing body cameras, it will make members of the public and officers aware or conscious that they are being watched and their actions are being recorded. As a result, both will remain on good behavior when interacting with one another. Law enforcement officers that are wearing body cameras will be constantly reminded to behave and maintain professionalism at all times when interacting with the public. In the article by Mindy Lawrence, it talks about an experiment that showed that police officer without body cameras conducted in twice as many incidences of use of force as officers with cameras. Not only will police officers behave while their body cameras are recording but members of the public will be on their best behavior as well. The use of body cameras will overall decrease the tension during encounters between police officers and the community. When members of the community interact with an officer with a body camera, they will think twice about harming or being disrespectful to that police officer.
Another benefit of police using body cameras would be to capture evidence to prove or disprove any allegations made by a member of the public against a police officer. If an allegation is made against an officer, law enforcement officials can examine the body camera footage and determine what really happened. Body cameras capture visual and audio evidence to help disprove false accusations against any police officer. However, if the officer did in fact act inappropriately, the body camera footage can be used to help law enforcement officials evaluate that officer and determine the correct punishment. The video captured footage may help corroborate the facts of the encounter and result in a quicker resolution of the occurrence. This can really make a difference in improving the transparency and accountability of police officers. There are times when members of the public want to harm the perception of police officers and make false accusations. These false accusations affect the relationship are affecting the perception of all police officers. Yes, there are some law enforcement officers who don’t always have good intentions and are sometimes corrupt. But society needs to know that, the percentage is extremely low, and not all police officers are bad. Most law enforcement officers take their jobs very seriously and are honored to serve and protect the community. These officers risk their lives every day to protect the community and will do anything to help someone in times of need. That is why the use of body cameras are extremely important not only to protect the public or police but to show society that police officers care about the people of the community and are human beings as well.
Body cameras are also useful as they capture evidence in arrests and prosecutions. Cases that have the evidence captured by a body camera can help make the whole process easier. The footage recorded would further document the occurrence of a crime being committed and will account for what the officer reported what happened. If a suspect is presented with the video evidence, then they might result in admitting to the crime and pleading guilty. This would then save taxpayer’s dollars from being spent on a trial. Body cameras will also reduce the overall amount of time it will take for officers to complete paperwork and the camera would show validated evidence that can be presented by prosecutors in court to prove their case. Body cameras would help capture real live evidence that would be extremely useful in court.
Lastly, body cameras can be used as a beneficial tool when it comes to training beginner officers. The footage captured by body cameras can be used for a learning experience for officers, showing them what is appropriate behavior and what is not. New officers can learn second-hand from other officers’ experiences and mistakes. Body camera footage used during training will teach officers how to interact and communicate with members of the community. It will also show them how to handle different situations that they will be faced with when on duty. This will benefit the community by law enforcement officials putting train officers on the street to serve the community. These trained officers will be more awake and make fewer mistakes. During training, law enforcement officials can use the footage captured to help them correct and come up with new strategies to help officers carry out their job safely when dealing with members of the public.
In conclusion, law enforcement can use body cameras as a tool to benefit police officers and members of the community. Through past events and experiences, law enforcement made a widespread change and care about both interests of the police and the community. It is important for law enforcement to correct their policies and use tools of technology such as body cameras for the benefit of every one of society. I personally believe that the use of body cameras are an extremely useful tool that can help impact the relationship between law enforcement and the community. It is extremely important for there to be a positive relationship between both the police and the public in order to keep society safe and productive. Today I feel as though it is extremely dangerous to work as a police officer. Sadly, when a person is killed by a police officer no matter what the circumstances are, the media at times falsely causes tensions between communities and law enforcement. The media stirs up the community under false pretenses and keeps the communities and law enforcement relationships at a disadvantage. People need to understand that police officers are good, hard-working people that care about every person that is part of the community. Police officers have families of their own and want society to be a safe place for all people to live in, no matter what their skin color may be. This topic is extremely personal for me. I have family who is law enforcement officers. My father and uncle are both Freeport Police Officers that have served for more than twenty years. Not only do I have family that is Freeport Police Officers but the men and women of all ethnic backgrounds, whom my father and uncle served are part of my family as well. I grew up with their children and am the person today because of their guidance. These hard-working men and women have always been there for me and my family. They have shown me how important it is to care about each member of my community no matter what their religious or ethnic beliefs may be. I care so deeply about the men and women who serve and protect our communities. That is why I believe body cameras are an extremely useful tool that can potentially change the lives of the police and the public.
Every time I hear about a police officer being attacked or discriminated against due to their position, it makes me sick. I cannot believe that just because of very few occasions of corrupt officers harming members of the community, people honestly think that all police officers are corrupt. These people under false pretenses affect the community and law enforcement’s relationship. That is why body cameras are important and are great tools to help maintain the relationship of the police and the public. Body cameras not only keep officers safe but keep the community safe. Body cameras are a great tool when it comes to training new officers. Law enforcement officials can use body camera footage of examples on what to do and what not to do when interacting with the public. I asked my father on what he thought of the use of body cameras. He believes that they are a great tool to use, especially in society today. He said that in his opinion, the cameras deter violence against both the police and the public. He said police departments should release more footage of police interacting with the public, showing how police really do care about everyone in the community. The media only shows the very few bad encounters between officers and the public. You never get to see all of the good things police really do for the community. That’s why hopefully more law enforcement departments will use body cameras as a tool to benefit both the community and police officers. Overall body cameras are a great tool to keep peace and transparency between law enforcement and the public.
- Ariel, Barak, et al. “The Effect of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Use of Force and Citizens’ Complaints Against the Police: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology, vol. 31, no. 3, Sept. 2015, pp. 509–535. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10940-014-9236-3.
- Braga, Anthony A., et al. “The Effects of Body-Worn Cameras on Police Activity and Police-Citizen Encounters: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, vol. 108, no. 3, Summer 2018, pp. 511–538. EBSCOhost,
- Chapman, Brett. “Body-Worn Cameras: What the Evidence Tells Us.” National Institute of Justice Journal, Issue No. 280, 15 Nov. 2018, pp. 1–5., https://www.nij.gov/journals/280/ Pages/body-worn-cameras-what-evidence-tells-us.
- Lawrence, Mindy. “Lights, Camera, Action: The Age of Body Cameras in Law Enforcement and the Effects of Implementing Body Camera Programs in Rural Communities.” North Dakota Law Review, vol. 91, no. 3, Dec. 2015, pp. 611–632. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=118802970&site=ehost-live.
- Morrow, Weston J., et al. “Assessing the Impact of Police Body-Worn Cameras on Arresting, Prosecuting, and Convicting Suspects of Intimate Partner Violence.” Police Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 303–325. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/1098611116652850.
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