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Body Cameras on Police Officers: A Workable Solution in the Aftermath?

With the last week, the country has been up-in-arms over the events that occurred in Missouri and, to add fuel to the fire, the “no indictment” ruling for a police officer who used a banned choke-hold maneuver that ended the life of a man. With so much in turmoil and the citizens taking to the streets, suggestions have been thrown by both the population and the administration to resolve the current issues with police misconduct that are rampant in the nation.

The Obama Administration’s Body Camera Solution

The most recent solution, and the solution that is getting some traction, has come from the Obama administration which has proposed that body cameras be added to the uniforms of police officers as a way to ensure good behavior by police officials. The administration has requested that federal funds of $75 million be devoted to the creation and implementation of this new technology. The money would be used to distribute 50,000 body cameras throughout the nation, suggesting that these body cameras will create an environment of accountability and transparency. The question, however, that has been posed is: will body cameras work to restrain police officers from misconduct?

The Rialto Study

In California, a study, known as the Rialto study, has recently been published discussing the effect that wearing body cameras had on police officers’ behavior. Throughout the year-long study, there was a significant reduction in the number of complaints from citizens against police officers for misconduct; there was a decrease of citizens’ complaints by 88 percent and officers’ use of force also declined by 60 percent. Clearly in California, body cameras had a positive impact on police officer behavior. However, many believe that these results could not be reproduced similarly in other areas of the country or the world.

The Critics on Body Cameras

The following are some negatives that have been put forth by critics with regards to body cameras on police officers:

  • Body cameras are expensive. They cost somewhere between $800- $1,000 for the cameras, which doesn’t include the software and network needed to collect and store data from the camera. The use of these cameras and their maintenance could cost billions of dollars.
  • Privacy issues are rampant. People are worried that a police officer who travels the streets with the body camera may be collecting a serious amount of data and could be used to track and record the movements of citizens throughout the country. This might inhibit many from reporting police officers because they do not want to be on camera or have their movements on record.
  • As seen with the recent “no indictment” in the choke-hold death in New York, having a camera trained on a police officer may not have the deterrent value that the study seems to suggest. Police may still act badly whether they are recorded or not.
  • Having video evidence may create a new standard whereby if the police officer does not have video evidence of the incident, the grand jury may rule that there is insufficient evidence to convict. There could be many different reasons why the camera did not take the footage necessary and the court might take this as “it did not happen.”

Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Issues of police misconduct are present nationwide and not isolated to certain areas of the country. If you or a loved one has been the victim of police misconduct or brutality, it is important to have an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik to advocate on your behalf and ensure that you and your rights are protected in the face of this injustice. Contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation.

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