What are the Effects of Body Cameras on the Police and Public

Category: Society
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In today’s society, hundreds are killed by police officers yearly. To be specific, 987 people were shot and killed by police in the year 2017 (The Washington Post). In general, I personally don’t believe we have the right to play God on Earth. But with video graphic evidence present during police encounters with the public, we have the ability to justify actions of both a police officer and suspect. In recent times, the way police handle situations have become a huge controversy. It is at the point where people have taken time out of their day to stop and record police encounters that have nothing to do with them personally. For example, a woman named Ginger Galore Williams, recorded a incident that occurred at a kids’ soccer game. She can be heard giving her reason for recording, “I just want to make sure this man is safe, period” (Schladebeck). There are even videos on the web of bystanders returning to pulled over vehicles asking the drivers if they are okay. Just recently, a recording has been uploaded to the internet that contained a Hartford police officer named Sgt. Stephen Barone telling a group of “suspected trespassers” that he is “trigger happy.” This resulted in the, Hartford police Assistant Chief Rafael Medina making the following statement, “regardless of the context or the intent, those statements are entirely unacceptable and represent a fundamental disregard for the conduct we expect and the standards we hold ourselves to.” This incident also resulted in the Mayor Luke Bronin stating, “the behavior in this video is completely unacceptable. It’s inconsistent with the values of our police department and our city, and it is deeply damaging and disappointing. Law enforcement officers have a responsibility to treat the use of force and threats of force seriously at all times” (Nicholas Rondinone). When you actually take a second to think about the incidents that are caught on camera and how devastating they are, imagine all the incidents that happened before this period of cameras and social media. Body worn cameras on police are 100 percent necessary due to the effects they have on conduct and self-awareness of both police officers and suspects.

Body worn cameras (BWC’s) on police are absolutely necessary. The following is an example of the effects of body worn cameras by police in an experiment conducted in Rialto, California. “Following this twelve-month experiment, Ariel, Farrar, and Sutherland reported a relative reduction of roughly 50% in the total number of incidents of use of force compared to control conditions and a 90% reduction in citizens’ complaints, compared to the twelve months prior to the experiment (Ariel 734). This source continues to support the use of body worn cameras by stating, theories related to self-awareness and deterrence claim that we as people change the way we act and think when we are aware that we are being watched. There is a ton of quality evidence on “self-awareness and socially desirable-responding” that show people follow the rules of society or social norms and change the way they behave once aware they are being watched (Ariel 735). Not to mention, my source also brings up the point that the effect of cameras works both ways. For example, “Deterrence and self-awareness work equally on suspects who would otherwise decide to commit crime and on police officers who might otherwise break the rules of conduct.” (Ariel 735) Due to this reason, BWC’s are known to work for and against both the police and public during encounters. Some people may question the credibility of this study by stating, due to different sizes of police forces, they may be exposed to different issues. “Larger forces can be exposed to more diverse problems, including a nighttime economy of a different scale than small-scale departments, an incomparable volume of calls for service, and potentially more serious crimes than local agencies” (Ariel 735). To add, others may point to the training, expertise, collaborative work of police officers, and the likelihood of force used in different sized police departments. Lastly, others might even point to the budget, tasks for promotion, and department culture (Ariel 735). Although they have a valid point that the location of this study did have a smaller police force, it is important to remember that under any circumstance, police officers have conduct and rules they must follow. The difference in an area doesn’t and shouldn’t mean a difference in conduct.

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Continuing common counter arguments, others may disagree with the use of body worn cameras on police officers. They may claim that these cameras are an invasion of these police officers’ privacy. They may also make claims such as BWC’s can actually prevent police officers from using force when its actually needed, resulting in horrific consequences. The fact of the matter is that body worn cameras aren’t an invasion of privacy and that the odds of a police officer using less force then what is actually needed is zero to none. According to (Pinchevsky and Nix 53), Domestic disturbances are incidents with the most potential danger to police officers. Due to this approach, police officers have socially justified the idea of shooting first, then asking questions later. On the other hand, invasion of privacy occurs when a person feels their private matters and affairs are being invaded. As a police officer, their job is to serve the public. They can even be considered civil servants in a way. It is their job to ensure their, others, and the public’s safety. Therefore, it is necessary for the public to know what occurs behind the scenes, especially in times of controversy.

In conclusion, it is important to recognize the need for body worn cameras on police officers. According to PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) there are several benefits that come out of the use of BWC’s for both parties, including a greater amount of transparency and accountability, and greater evidence to document (Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned). With the use of cameras, we are allowed a first perspective view of actions of a police officer and suspects. All statistics and common knowledge point to the idea, we as humans are less likely to do things that are considered illegal or socially wrong if we know we are being watched. Based off of this fact alone and the violent society we live in today, it is crucial that there is video graphic evidence for actions taken by police while dealing with the public. Not only for the security of the public, but for the accountability for the officer.

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What Are the Effects of Body Cameras on The Police and Public. (2019, Sep 28). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/what-are-the-effects-of-body-cameras-on-the-police-and-public/