Body-worn cameras are small devices worn by law enforcement offices to record video footage and sound of an office while interacting with the public. These small body-worn cameras have microphones to record sound and video cameras for video footage. They have inbuilt data storage memory to keep data and information for later review. Body-worn cameras help enforcement officers demonstrate transparency at the place of work and while interacting with the public. What’s more, they are admissible in the court of law to provide evidence against law offenders.
There has been a heated debate about whether law enforcement officers should wear body-worn cameras or not. The following are the pros and cons of law enforcement officers wearing body-worn cameras in their line of duty.
Pros of Body-Worn Cameras
Improved police accountability and reduced misconduct on the side of law enforcers. Body-worn cameras made by Comvision provide concrete evidence against gross misconduct of law enforcers and notorious public nuisance from the citizens. This evidence can be used in the court of law by the judges to determine and make informed judgements. It is evident that extrajudicial killings by police officers went down, a study found. The use of physical force by police force dropped down significantly according to the study. In contrast, police wearing cameras are more likely to stop harassing citizens compared to those who do not wear them. False accusations against law enforcers are likely to drop if every law enforcer wears body-worn cameras.
They are critical tools in the case of domestic violence. The camera records happenings at the scene during the attack and the aftermath, the injuries sustained will act as evidence for the argument, because some of the victims withdraw statements for fear of emotional ties with the abusers. The video evidence will give them a backup while writing their statements or when giving their side of the story to the officer in charge. Statements recorded by the cameras often tend to be different from the statements recorded way later on after the incident. Cameras document these critical moments of the aftermath that will later be used by the police to guide the victim when writing or narrating their statement. It makes it easier for the abusers to plead guilty when they know there was video evidence to show they are culpable of the offence.
Cons of Body-Worn Cameras
Body-worn cameras for every law enforcer is not feasible for the department. Body cameras are expensive to procure these devices for every officer, still, these devices require extra cables and enabling devices such as car chargers and the rest for it to work reliably. It becomes an additional cost for the police department because there will be the need to hire a specialist who will be responsible for safeguarding data and storage devices. There will come additional expenses for repairs and maintenance.
Body-worn cameras invade the privacy of the citizens and maybe expose them to facial recognition software. Victims of violence and rape may feel traumatized when the scene is replayed infringing on their privacy. People finding themselves on the wrong side of the law fear exposure to the public which may destroy their public image to the extent of losing their jobs for accidentally finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. There could be retaliation from the citizens for fear of exposure through body-worn cameras.