In the United States, there has been a major increase in conflict between law enforcement and communities. Incidents such as the fatal shootings of Stephon Clark in Sacramento and Philando Castile has brought up major protests in many cities. Some shootings are still filled with questions, with authorities still unsure of the events that led to those fatal moments.
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Was the shooting intentional? Was there a reason to use deadly force? The answer to these questions can be found with the use of body cameras in police departments. The cameras will help with increasing the safety of the public and police, improving police accountability and fake accusations, and provide fantastic realistic training tools for officers of all ranks to utilize.
When officers are aware of being filmed during every action and movement they make, it can encourage better behavior. This is the same for the public, too. Since individuals know they are being filmed and cannot get away with anything nefarious, they may peacefully comply. This greatly increases the safety of the public and the police and is leading to a decrease in the attacks and the use of force by officers. The first city to use body cameras in Rialto, CA, found an overall of 50% reduction in the total number of use of force incidents when a body camera was being worn (Police), and civilian complaints against the police went down by 60% (Scheindlin). With the continuous use of these cameras around the country, it strengthens the trust between citizens and officers and will continue to lower civilian complaints and use of force incidents.
With the increasing influence of social media, photos and videos of incidents can go viral within minutes. The 2014 filmed shooting of Michael Brown and the protests that followed opened the debate of police violence (Stanley). Body cameras can be used to improve police accountability and protect officers from false accusations of misconduct. The body cameras provide visual and audio evidence that can identify exactly what happened in any given situation. Instances where officers are accused, can simply be solved by looking at the officer’s body camera footage to find out the true story. In Baltimore, Maryland, a police officer was suspended and two of his colleagues were placed on leave after they were caught on their body cameras planting fake evidence (Police). The cameras can also help officers who are falsely accused. In San Diego, California, the use of body cameras provided the necessary evidence to exonerate officers wrongly accused of misconduct- the number of severe misconduct allegations proven false increased by 2.4%,
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