The current climate of trust in law enforcement has been on a steady decline over the past few years, with many claiming there is corruption within the force. This is due to numerous cases of police officers supposedly attacking unarmed pedestrians, sometimes harassing, injuring, or even killing them. These cases have been mostly circumstantial, as they usually end up being one person’s word against another. This makes for a lowered sense of trust all around. And because these events are becoming more common (or are at least being brought into the light more often because of social media) it makes sense that law enforcement should consider installing body cams on their officers.
Police already use cameras on the job to keep a record of what happens while they’re out on patrol. Approximately 72% of state patrol vehicles use video systems within their cars. However, these are usually in the form dash cams, and while those are important, they can’t always be counted as reliable. If the officer leaves their car and chases down a suspect, there is no account of what happened once they get out of the dash cam’s view. This is where body-worn cameras are so important. The videos people post online or videos in a dash cam are not entirely credible, as they may not show the whole story. Body cameras, on the other hand, will be able to keep an accurate record of each interaction with the public whether it escalates or not, and this will help keep the boys in blue out of trouble if they were simply doing their job.
The studies have also shown that the cameras do seem to control any unnecessary reactions and interactions with the public. Police officers that have been using the cameras show more than 90% fewer complaints from the public compared to their colleagues. And according to an evaluation from the Rialto Police Department in California, body-worn cameras have dropped the use of force by 60%.
Studies have shown there is already a lot of push for the cameras. About one-third of the U.S. police departments have been using them since 2015. A recent study showed that over half of the police department administrators believed that body cams would make it easier to interact and cooperate with the public. Not only that, but over 90% of the public is in favor of these cameras being implemented within the police force as well.
The studies have shown that these body-worn cameras are creating a better cohesion between law enforcement and the public. There is already a lot of push for them, and they may be able to help reverse the bad reps that police officers have been getting over the past several years. We can only hope that the departments will choose to implement these devices soon, for everyone’s safety and peace of mind.