Police Officers Should Wear Body Cameras When Policing - Essay Sample

Published: 2021-08-11
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I am a researcher working on identifying if the police should wear body cameras when policing. As we know, this has been an issue of concern where many people are debating for or against the use of cameras. According to McCamman and Culhane, research has been focused on large-scale studies, which analyze the effects of these cameras and their impact on the police departments (167). They concentrate their research on whether fitting these cameras on police officers will improve their relationships with the public or not. I, as well as many people, are concerned about the current state of our security system, and the pertinent ways of improving security. Many people are suffering at the hands of the police, and since there is no evidence of police misconduct, then there lacks a basis for a conviction. America is comprised of many culturally diverse citizens. The majority seem to have their way, leaving the minority groups in the preying hands of the police. As such, it would be essential to fit every cop with a camera, which will track movements, sounds, and show images.

Many people have been to the streets complaining of mistreatment by the police. Of the majority were black Americans who expressed that they were being violated as the rate of police killing allegedly unarmed black men is increasing tremendously. McCamman and Culhane state that police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson coupled to the cops wearing cameras acted as a technological means to control violence (168). Such was the ultimate violation of the blacks rights (Sommers, 1309). Considering Police Body Cameras is an article by Harvard Law Review which explains that the introduction of cameras was aimed at preventing the killing of innocent people (1794). It is perceived that the introduction of cameras meant that the police would be more alert in their operation as noted by Lawrence (616). These cameras would be set on reducing police brutality and police force when arresting a culprit by recording the movements and interactions between the police and the public. The action of brutality can be reduced, thereby revolutionizing the nature of policing over time. The article details the killings of two blacks, and when the police were questioned, there was no evidence to implicate them in any wrongdoing. The Rialto study is a clear indication of the difference between police with their bodies fitted with cameras and those without. As noted by Considering Police Body Cameras, it was found that the rates of police using force were double in the police without cameras as compared to those who had cameras (1800). The tremendous reduction was a clear indication that these cameras had a calming effect on the police, whether they acted out of ethics or fear. However, some information sets on the calming effect being rooted in fear. Regardless, changes in the social settings of both the police and citizens and the accountability within the police force could be the primary characteristic that has led to the decline. This emergent research has been criticized in that only a small percentage of the population were used as a sample. However, with the introduction of the technology, it is evident that more research will be conducted and gain positive feedback.

Correspondingly, the use of cameras can lower down the number of complaints of police misconduct and give more weight to a complaints claim. The primary way to measure the level of police misconduct would be analyzing the number and frequency of complaints (Ariel, Farrar, and Sutherland 515). These claims are issues raised by the public from the voluntary interaction while asking for help or involuntary like in the case of a traffic police. Regarding Considering Police Body Cameras, this increases more weight on the evidence rather than solely depending on the witnesses or the word of mouth of the complainant (1801). These recordings can lead the investigators to more accurate findings, which will be used to convict a guilty officer or release an innocent one. Besides, the number of complaints can reduce instantly when the citizens know that they are under the watch and everything is recorded. The Rialto experiment, which was aimed at identifying the effects of body cameras found that the complaint rates of police brutality dropped significantly for those police with the cameras. The complaints were lowered by almost a third and the incidences dropped by almost half. The findings of both Rialto and Orlando experiments stated that the use of cameras completely revolutionized the relationship between the officers and the public (McCamman and Culhane, 168). Most of these complaints are not set on punishing the police officer. Some people complain because of hate towards a certain officer. Although public complaints are a show of dissatisfaction, they at times can be erroneous or overrated.

However, another claim is that the reduction in cases cannot be attributed solely to the use of cameras. It could be that the victim does not want to report the case. To certify the claims of the reduction in reported harassments, then more research needs to be conducted.

Installing these cameras would facilitate improving police training. According to Considering Police Body Cameras, these cameras can be used as a guide to correct an officer in their course of duty (1802). Such can be done to those police whom complaints on misconduct have been filed. Besides, footages could be used to show a team on training what happened and what was supposed to be the best approach. These police officers do not have to go through the experiences of previous officers. As such, they learn to make fewer mistakes, which benefit the public, as well as the officers (Lawrence, 618). Such leads to better service to the public and their general satisfaction. However, such can only be effective if they utilize the footages of each officer when correcting mistakes. It is possible since they will be selective in their training by picking the best and most applicable experience in training.

Significantly, video recording can improve the quality of evidence presented in a court of law. Before the introduction of these footages, there was always a tousle between the police officer and the complainant. This evidence gives both parties a chance to view what happened during their interaction (Lawrence, Mindy 616). As such, many prosecutors have stated that they can defend or argue a case when there is the evidence of a video footage. Consequently, officers work with many citizens. In case of a complaint, they may have forgotten the occurrence. Nevertheless, introduction of video footage can refresh their memory and ensure that they can argue their case. Besides, the information can improve the quality of the written evidence and the witnesses. In contrast, overreliance on video footage can be detrimental. The jury could always be expecting video evidence thereby discrediting any other information like the statements from police or eyewitnesses.

Finally, these videos increase accountability, client relationships, and transparency. The relationship between the public and the police officers has been rocky for the longest time ever. The blacks who feel that they are being violated have mostly been affected by such. The relationship between the public and the officers could be increased since the citizens would feel safe and secure in their midst. Additionally, when the police know that they are being monitored, they treat the public with respect, thus improving that pertinent relationship. However, as noted by McCamman and Culhane, it will be possible for the public to access these footages in the media, which may lower the trust the public has on the police (167). Significantly, the use of videos shows some compassion in that some police officers involved in contentious shootings may receive sympathy from the jury. It results from the show of regret from the police officer after studying his or her body language. Consequently, such may show that police human beings are normal people who have compassion and share in the emotions with the public. Such kind of an officer may receive less severe judgment, and the whole case reversed to the offender. The method of presentation of the evidence influence different responses from the public.

In summary, the use of body cameras has been a source of concern for reformers. It was noted that the body cameras are a sure way of punishing police officers who violated publics rights. It has been a topic of discussion, some being for and others against these cameras. The public thought that the introduction of these cameras would reduce the level of violence displayed by the police on a daily basis. There have been cases where the jury would give a better verdict if only the video evidence were present. Such is enough proof that the kind of evidence presented to the jury would have more basis than the witnesses word of mouth. Interestingly, this innovation would lower the level of public complaints in that there would be an improvement of the conduct of the police and the public. The public would require accurate information concerning the interaction with the police since any erroneous information would easily be discredited. With the public knowing that they are safe, especially the minority groups, then it is possible to improve the relationship between the public and the police. Many mass actions have been reported over innocent killings of the minority. As such, the affected groups have lost faith in the police, who are seen as perpetrators rather than a source of help. It may change for the better since these minority groups would have an experience of what it is to live amicably with the police and get quality services. The use of these cameras is an advantage to the society and should be encouraged and implemented in the country. With that, the public and police officers would maintain a good relationship.

Works Cited

Ariel, Barak, William A. Farrar, and Alex Sutherland. "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 31.3 (2015): 509-535.

Harvard Law Review. Chapter Four: Considering Police Body Cameras. Cambridge. Harvard Law Review Assoc. 2015. Print.

Lawrence, Mindy. "Lights, Camera, Action: The Age of Body Cameras in Law Enforcement and the Effects of Implementing Body Camera Programs in Rural Communities." NDL Rev. 91 (2015): 611-632.

McCamman, Michael, and Scott Culhane. "Police Body Cameras and Us: Public Perceptions of the Justification of the Police Use of Force in the Body Camera Era." Translational Issues in Psychological Science 3.2 (2017): 167-175.

Sommers, Roseanna. "Will putting cameras on police reduce polarization." Yale LJ 125 (2015): 1304-1363.

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