Are Police Body Cameras A Good Idea?

With reports of police brutality in the news on an almost daily basis, many have called for the use of police body cameras. But is there any proof that body cameras are beneficial? And is there more to this question than meets the eye?

Reasons For Police Body Cameras

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, there are high expectations for what police body cameras can accomplish. The public believes cameras might increase police accountability and reduce use of force and bad behavior. The police think cameras might reduce frivolous complaints and lawsuits. Obviously, these are two dramatically different expectations. Unfortunately, very little research has been done to indicate exactly what benefits body cameras on police may really have.

However, Birmingham is seeing some real results since use of police body cameras began rolling out in June. According to a recent piece form, “use of force incidents dropped 34 percent and citizens’ complaints dropped 70 percent.” There are also unexpected issues that need to be addressed. The fact that the police department has already used half of their video storage space in two months is just the tip of the iceberg.

Justice And Police Body Cameras

One of the biggest questions that needs to be answered is discussed in the Washington Post piece: How will body camera footage impact what happens in the courtroom?

Will video evidence affect jurors in criminal cases? The law says that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While a video could eliminate reasonable doubt in some cases and create it in others, it may also present defendants in an unfavorable light that could impact how jurors perceive that person.

Furthermore, if use of this evidence in the courtroom increases, how will the testimony of police be perceived by juries when there is no video footage? Will the testimony of officers, previously held in high regard, be devalued? Could prosecutors choose not to prosecute if there is no video evidence?

Ultimately, there are many questions that still need to be answered about police body cameras. At The Bloomston Firm, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of criminal defense representation. We can tailor our defense strategy accordingly depending on whether or not there was body camera footage of the incident, and we can take the appropriate steps to defend your rights and protect your future.