November 28, 2014

How police body cameras work


[Police body] cameras, which can be worn on sunglasses or clipped to a shirt, have won the backing of both civil libertarians and police groups. Civil liberties advocates argue that video records prevent cops from abusing their authority, while law enforcement groups note that a person cannot falsely accuse an officer if their encounter is recorded.

recent study commissioned by the Police Foundation, an organization devoted to law enforcement research, found that the devices dramatically lowered complaints of police abuse.

In the study, about half the police force in Rialto, California, wore cameras during patrols for a year. At the end, there were just three complaints of excessive force against the officers -- down from 28 in the previous 12 months.

"The findings suggest more than a 50 percent reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions, and nearly 10 times more citizens' complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment," the report said.

Other experts, including those at the Department of Justice, have reached similar conclusions

Use of the cameras does have downsides, however. There are no across-the-board standards for how and when the devices should be used, or for how the footage created should be used. It is possible for police to tamper with the recordings, or to simply refuse to turn on the cameras. A recent investigation by the Times-Picayune in New Orleans found cameras often were not used when they should have been. Huffington Post:

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