Should Police Wear Body Cameras Essay Example
We live in an age of technological freedom and photography everywhere. Most people carry a smartphone that can record when an event occurs. These videos are often displayed in the news and on the internet. In the area of law enforcement agencies, there is a lot of debate as to whether police need to wear body-mounted cameras so they can record an accident in real time. In Rialto, California, police stations use in-vehicle cameras to keep track of what's happening between government officials and the general public. In the first year of camera introduction, the percentage of officials using force decreased by 60% and citizens' complaints against the police decreased by 88%. (Carroll, Rory)
On July 17, 2014, a man by the name of Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York. Garner was accused of selling cigarettes outside of a store but garner claimed he did not do anything at all he was just minding his business according to a video recorded on a cell phone by a bystander. The video showed an Officer gets behind Garner and tried to put his hands behind his back but garner refused. An Officer then applied a choke hold to Garner until he was able to get him down then a few other Officers came by and held Garner down while Ganer is pleading “I Can’t Breathe” and they still held him down. If this camera was not recording then we’d never be able to see the real story unless we were there. This was a perfect example of what a body camera can do to actually know all actions that were done during the incident. It didn’t stop here.
On August 9, 2014, an incident that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri where a teenager by the name of Michael Brown was killed by an officer. Officers said that he matched the description of a recent convenience store robbery. Many problems like this happened before and this incident caused a huge change. Less than a month apart Eric Garner and Mike Brown two men that died because of accusations made against them and no one was charged in Mike brown case and no indictments in Eric Garner case if there was video evidence from more than one angle there would be a huge difference in each case outcome.
The same year the Eric Garner & Michael Brown Incidents occurred President Obama took a stand and gave his thoughts and proposed that the federal government grant 263 Million dollars to law enforcement agencies around the country. (128 Harv. L. Rev. 1794) This was a huge step President Obama took for change for the better. Moves like this cause people to actually realize what is going on in society and show them that someone of power is taking action. Adding body cameras is not implying they will stop crime but is a step to help cases such as face to face confrontation and clarify what was said during this discussion and also see what happened during the incident.
People's biggest issues were video quality has been questioned throughout the process of acquiring body cameras. Movement of Officer takes a big part in quality. An Officers movement can take down the quality of sound and video since all sounds are captured, ruffling of an Officers gear may decrease chances of actually hearing what was stated. Lighting in a room or outside can cause blurriness in the video. This can cause a lack of video evidence and have to rely on verbal evidence.
Biggest downfall about body cameras is that they can expose victims and witnesses of crimes. These tapes can be pulled and viewed by other parties involved in an incident and you may never know what the other party is capable of. Also may have connections to possibly harm, intimidate, or pay off witnesses and victims. This can lead to mistrials, cases not even making it to a court which causes criminals to get off free and go back out into the community and do the process all over again. Many people don't come forward because they don't want to be known as a snitch and fear for their life.