One of the major debates taking place throughout the US is whether police officers should wear body cameras.
Some police departments have decided to use cameras. For example, as recently reported in the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers plan to get police body cameras in 2015 after a pilot program.
What’s fueling the debate about body cameras for police?
High-profile incidents involving alleged police brutality or shootings of unarmed civilians have been feeding into the debate on cameras.
For example, there have been months-long protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. The events surrounding the shooting are in dispute, as are the police’s evidence collection methods afterwards and the prosecutor’s efforts to indict Darren Wilson, the officer involved. One point that people have raised is that a body camera would have helped clarify the events leading up to the shooting, including whether or not Michael Brown posed a violent threat to the police officer who shot him.
Will cameras be effective?
Some people dispute the effectiveness of body cameras. For instance, bystander cameras captured the final moments of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died in a choke-hold administered by a Staten Island police officer. In spite of the footage, the police officer wasn’t indicted.
However, even though body cameras aren’t magical solutions to conflicts involving police, many claim that they’ll still improve safety and provide key evidence. Body cameras might change the way police act towards civilians, and how civilians interact with police. The rate of alleged incidents of brutality or misconduct could decrease.
The camera footage might also serve as important evidence in court – though like all evidence, it requires interpretation and might be tampered with. If body camera footage comes into play in your case, it will be one more piece of evidence for your attorney to help you interpret.
Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your case. We’re staying on top of the latest developments in police work and the law in order to best serve as your legal advocates.
Do you think it is a good idea for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police to wear body cameras? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Todd Sumlin – Charlotte Observer
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