Police Body Cameras

Police body cameras, also known as BWC, are wearable audio and video recording systems used to monitor situations in which police officers are involved. They can use facial recognition to track down criminals. This technology could change the world. However, these cameras are creating more problems than they seem. Although some people think that police body cameras reduce crime levels, they are bad for our country. This is true because these cameras are misleading, may track innocent people, and are known to malfunction.

One of the main problems with body worn cameras is that they are misleading. Because the camera is on an officer’s body, it can be moved to an angle that only shows certain clips of information. According to NBC News, “…in Chicago, a police officer who failed to record the shooting of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal, despite wearing a body camera at the time, was placed under administrative leave.” This means that the officer at the crime scene wasn’t able to collect additional information about the shooting. Police body cameras are supposed to provide more information. Otherwise, they are useless. Also, police body cameras are operated by the officers themselves, meaning they can focus on a specific person. This also leads to the fact that when the focus is on one person, it doesn’t catch the rest of the scene. Again, this makes the camera pointless. NBC News also says that “The sole purpose of these cameras is to add an additional layer of what occurred at that particular incident, not to store people’s whereabouts.” If these cameras aren’t capturing extra information, then they shouldn’t be used. Police body cameras are misleading and therefore, pointless.

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Another concerning issue with police body cameras is that they can track people with added facial recognition. This technology can track innocent bystanders who aren’t even involved in illegal situations. Using facial recognition is an invasion of privacy as it can see someone’s every move. According to ProCon.org, police body cameras can damage police and civilian relationships instead of improve them. If people know they are being watched with facial recognition, then they might be more uneasy or even prone to violence with officers. In the United States especially, relationships between officers and civilians have been strained. With the added factor of facial recognition, tensions could be raised. Therefore, instead of reducing tensions, police body cameras create tension and more problems to be solved.

The last problem with police body cameras is that they are known to malfunction. Being new and modern technology, it is, these cameras will glitch, turn off, or not record at all. According to NBC News, “Body cams worn by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, also failed to capture footage during the shooting of Alton Sterling. They blamed the equipment’s manufacturer.” The murder of another person is a serious crime and these cameras are supposed to help prevent further acts of violence. If they don’t work and invade people’s privacy, then they shouldn’t be used at all. Another point to bring up is that officers need training to work the cameras. These high-tech machines need to be properly handled for the best result. Also, the officers need to turn the cameras on and off. If a shooting occurs and a camera is in use, but turned off, then it is of no use. The United States shouldn’t be allowing its citizens’ privacy to be violated with useless technology.

Some people believe that police body cameras reduce crime levels and protect innocent people. However, these cameras are human operated. This means that an officer can position the camera at a certain angle, thus preventing any additional information provided by the footage. Even though not all police officers act like this, discovering other concerning information makes them a risky tool to use. Police body cameras, while they might be able to catch some criminals, also invade the privacy of victims and witnesses, not just innocent passersby. Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub tells ProCon.org that “… every day we are exposing persons challenged by mental illness, autism, developmental disabilities, addiction, etc. We are creating and making public recordings of their illness and potentially creating life-long consequences.” This proves that when officers record, they are invading the privacy of victims and witnesses, and potentially exposing them. Using these cameras is too risky and it needs to stop.

Police body cameras seem to have advantages. But when you look closer, these small, body worn devices present dangerous risks. These cameras expose innocent people, invade privacy, malfunction, and are misleading. Using these cameras also creates more tensions in an already struggling world. Police body cameras should not be used. Period.

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