With technology enhancing every day with new equipment and upgrades, police body worn cameras is becoming a topic of conversation in the law enforcement community. The first camera that police officers were required to use were the video camera in the car, but now since technology had continued to advance, police officers are now given the body worn cameras. Body cameras are becoming more important in today’s world because they are decreasing crime rates, providing evidence, and having citizens feeling safe.
In this paper I will be giving my final opinion on if I believe police body cameras should be required nationwide, state by state decision, or have a national ban on police wearing body cameras. Even though state by state could be a good idea, I believe it wasn’t the best proposal for the nation. There are different reasons why I have rejected this proposal, one being the increase in crime rate. The database on Neighborhood Scout showed Kansas crime rate dealing with murder, rape, robbery, and assault.
I also looked into Wisconsin’s crime rate numbers and they were much higher than Kansas all the way from murder to assault. Kansas murder rate is 111 while Wisconsin’s murder rate is 229. Kansas officers have to use body cameras when they are on duty, and I believe this has to do with a big part of crime rates. State by state laws could be good because then the people who are in that state get to vote on how they want things done.
Some states might even have more money in that particular state to where they can have more advance and better technology provided to the state. Electronic Privacy Information Center stated, “Florida laws exempts from public records law any body camera video obtained inside a private residence, a health care, mental health care or social services facility or taken in a place that a reasonable person would expect to be private.” This makes for a good statement because some people don’t want their privacy recorded and shown to others for evidence because that is where the people feel safer. The citizens do not want to feel invaded in places like there house or at a health care unless the people give the police officers permission to do so. The other proposal I suggested was a nation ban of all cameras.
I don’t agree with this proposal either because then what evidence do the people have to show? The people’s word against the police officers will just become more complicated. Some problems when police wear body cameras are the privacy and limitations. Erica Baum mentioned some cons when writing her article discussing how some police officers don’t leave their cameras on the whole time while on duty, so sometimes when they come across and incident, they would forget to turn it on or just not turn it on, on purpose. Baum states, “the only time people can know that the officers have not been turning on the cameras would be in a scenario where there is a complaint against an officer.” With the nation having their police officers not wear body cameras it can turn into more crimes, robberies, and even put someone behind bars who is completely innocent. In an article “Police Body Cameras: Do They Reduce Complaints of Officer Misconduct?” Michael Kissiah discusses why officers shouldn’t invest in body cameras for police officers. Kissiah mentions some cons relating to body cameras such as privacy, technological issues, and equipment expenses.
Having technological issues, it can be related to the camera not working properly or having functional issues such as “a dead battery, damaged components, obstructed lens, and other problems.” All of those things could result in someone missing important information or crucial behavior by the officer or citizens. Kissiah talks about equipment expenses and how hard and costly it is to maintain body cameras. Potential costs for cameras include “the device itself, ongoing maintenance, and costs associated with storing and maintain the video footage and recorded data that is collected.” States don’t want to have to put so much money into a little device that might not even fulfill the needs of what it is supposed to do. Pros for not having police body cameras is citizens can feel safe anywhere they are, but that also goes for police officers as well. Police officers wear the body cameras they feel as if they need to change their whole attitude and how the run the operation because what doesn’t look bad in there eyes probably looks bad in someone else’s.
Officers are officers for a reason and want to feel trusted when going to do their job, but how can they do that when they have a camera recording there every move each time they are on duty? Having a ban for police body cameras can cause the nation to have higher crime rate and not bring justice to what needs to be brought to justice. It can even have citizens and police officers acting out on ways situations shouldn’t be handled. In an article written by Taylor Berman tells us the story of a cop who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy 2 seconds after arriving at a park. A 12-year-old boy who was playing in the park had an airsoft gun and when the officers arrived at the scene the boy kept pulling out the airsoft gun pointing it at people.
The officers state “it’s probably fake, but you know what, he is scaring the (expletive) out of me.” Even though officers thought that it probably would’ve been better to handle it a different way since they have second thoughts because now a little boy lost his life because of a mistake. The young boy wasn’t complying with the officers, but he might have been scared and not know what to do (he is only 12). With cameras being on officers this could help out situations and incidents that can occur, just like these. The officer who shot the 12-year-old boy never got convicted of murder because it was an “accident”.
Having body cameras and seeing it action by action and not just on a street camera will bring justice to families and officers.Citizens, officers, and maybe even the government might be opposed to having police wear body cameras because of the privacy, the cost, and the technology that plays into having these cameras. These costs might higher people’s taxes and that might cause more stress on everyone, but wouldn’t you want to know that people could have justice, a say in the courtroom, and to have the sense of feeling safe? That’s why in my opinion I am for nationwide body cameras for police officers.
Kissiah also mentioned benefits as to why body cameras can be very good for the states. Kissiah states, “protects false accusations, misconduct and abuse,” “may help with confrontational issues between officers and civilians,” “help provide valuable evidence in obtaining accurate witness and victim statements,” and lastly “video capturing can help speed up court proceedings by proof of situations.” It would be best for our nation to adopt this policy because then people will have a voice, justice will be brought, there will be no miscommunications because the evidence is right in front of them, and crime rates will begin to decrease. There will be problems with every situation, every law, every proposal, but there is always a solution to every problem. Summarizing all of this together I do believe that body cameras for police officers should be nationwide. People everywhere are losing their lives or being convicted of something they didn’t do, but it isn’t only finding justice for citizens, but also police officers.
I want the people to have a voice. I hope my English 1302 class, and my professor as well has learned more about this topic and how serious this matter has become over the years. Everyone’s opinion is different