Why Body Worn Cameras Should Be Utilized by Law Enforcement Officers

Williams, Shaun P.
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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)
Throughout the nation, some communities have a distrust of police officers based on a previous personal experience or due to a police use of force situation that gained nationwide media attention. It is important to understand that some of these allegations of blatant misconduct have been substantiated, but the majority of the criticism against officers are based on the public’s perception of how they felt the officer should have handled a situation. With only the suspect and a biased witness to the incident, a police action that results in death or serious injury could result in public outrage. With the current climate of how some citizens view police officers and the increased scrutiny of police department administrations, the use of body worn cameras has now become a major topic for many police agencies. When a major incident occurs, one of the first requests made by the media is for a copy of the officer’s video. If no video exists, the action taken by the officer or officers involved may immediately become suspect. Some officers feel that wearing a body camera their entire shift is an invasion of privacy and could lead to discipline for a minor infraction, while others understand that having an incident recorded, even if scrutinized by the public and the media, may prove that their actions were within departmental policy and the law. Implementation of a body camera program could help significantly reduce false allegations against officers, help give an unbiased account of exactly what action was taken, and aid in ensuring that an officer is held accountable for misconduct that occurs. This proactive approach by law enforcement will help restore and maintain public trust and transparency with their agency
Police-- community relations, community policing