On Aug. 9, an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot and killed
by a white police officer. The now infamous shooting was witnessed by
some residents in the area and the aftermath and images of Brown's
body lying in the street were even captured via cellphone photos.
Since Brown's shooting, there has been much debate and rage over the
use of unnecessary force and in this case firearm use, by police officers
across America. As outraged citizens demand that criminal charges be brought
against the police officer who shot Brown, details related to the events
that took place immediately before the shooting are still unclear. This
would not, however, be the case had the police officer who shot Brown
been required to wear a body camera similar to the ones used by police
officers in Rialto, California.
Disputed cases like the Michael Brown shooting and countless other cases
across the country in which police officers are accused of using excessive
force or unfairly charging individuals with additional
criminal charges like resisting arrest, could benefit greatly from police officers’
use of body cameras. In the year following the mandated use of body cameras
in Rialto, "the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen
complaints against police fell 88%."
Police officers who know their every word and action is being recorded
are more likely to approach individuals in a respectful manner thereby
positively changing interactions and, ideally, relations between everyday
American citizens and members of the police force. While concerns have
been raised with regard to privacy laws and how to securely store video
footage, recent tragic events prove there is a need for this type of technology
and increased oversight.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "
What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras," Christopher Mims, August 18, 2014