Body-Mounted Cameras and the Police

An article in the Wall Street Journal focused on the impact that wearing body cameras can have on police forces:

Sometimes, like the moments leading up to when a police officer decides to shoot someone, transparency is an unalloyed good. And especially lately, technology has progressed to a point that it makes this kind of transparency not just possible, but routine.

So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens. In the first year after the cameras’ introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%…

What happens when police wear cameras isn’t simply that tamper-proof recording devices provide an objective record of an encounter—though some of the reduction in complaints is apparently because of citizens declining to contest video evidence of their behavior—but a modification of the psychology of everyone involved.

The article goes on to point out that there are some issues that need to be resolved with body camera technology – privacy concerns for victims and witnesses to name one – but with the cost of the technology plummeting some experts think it’s only a matter of time before most police departments will be using them.

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