For years, several innocent people have killed or been injured at the hands of corrupt police officers. Many of the officers abuse the authority granted to them by the constitution, harassing and even murdering ordinary people. Aside from that, certain people kill their coworkers in order to silence them or for other motives. The Quad-City Times report Without access, police body cameras won’t live up to promise will be the subject of this issue. The main aim of the article is to show that the use of body cameras among the police will achieve the anticipated targets.
Body cameras are a great tool in policing a community because it gives an objective view of the police-public interaction scenario. The adoption of the body cameras to the police force can only be effective in restoring public trust if the footage of questionable incidences can be accessed by the general public. The people involved in operating the system from the police on patrol to the lawyers should be transparent in conducting their duties. No one should take bribes of any kind so as to manipulate or provide false information concerning the footage. Although the footage may contain intimate information on people, it should not be the reason why the police departments withhold data collected from the body cameras this is according to Clark and Mark in the article “On-Body Video: Eye Witness or Big Brother (Clark and Mark) . The police departments have set rules enabling them to operate without oversight. Privacy is a significant factor in the implementation of this project.
According to the article “NYPD in a snap judgment “written by Celona and Larry, even though the majority of the criminals are black, it should not be a reason why any black kids should be harassed by the police. The African American kids and youths have always been perceived as criminals by police departments across all the states in America. Police body cameras have been viewed as a tool which will restore the trust people have on police activities. In the United States, there has been a lot of riots, especially from the black community because of questionable shootings. This is because the footage will provide the real account of events in a questionable interaction with police and the public thereby requiring the police officers to conduct their duties in a professional way. The body cameras are meant to act as an oversight on the behavior of the police. Also, in situations where police are wrongly accused of exercising unwarranted excessive force or not being objective when dispensing their duties, the footage retrieved from the body cameras will offer concrete proof in a court of the officer’s innocence. Although the money used to fund the cameras initiative comes from the public, the system only favors police officers. The footage is readily available to exonerate police officers, but when the victim is a civilian, the footage cannot be accessed (Celona and Larry). For instance, in Lowa, the attorneys are denied access to the content of the footage thereby restricting the access of what might have decided the outcome of the case.
Anslem and Phillips in their Sunday editorial in the Quad-City Times suggest that despite the fact that the supporters who have been on the forefront of the body camera implementation into the police system have been the police department themselves and the state lawmakers, they are the ones who are sabotaging the success of the system. The police departments have in-house laws which they make on how to conduct their activities without the input of other organs of the state leadership. This creates a scenario where the police officers can manipulate the evidence or deny the prosecution the access of the body camera footage which may implicate any of their own in a court of law. North Carolina and Lowa have not done enough to ensure the footage is available to the public so that instances of questionable police activities can be retrieved and used against them in their prosecution (Anslem and Phillips). Therefore, there is no accountability in the management of the body cameras. The purpose of the cameras is to provide evidence of the duties carried by the police which will assure the public that justice will prevail.
Celona and Larry suggest that the FOIA of different states has different policies on how they handle the body camera footage from the police. Illinois FOIA allows the access of the footage when there is a questionable police shooting. On the other hand, some states such as Lowa and North Carolina have strict policies on the access of the footage even in situations where police operate beyond their mandate. For instance, in Lowa, Bettendorf did not produce the footage of a man carrying a toy gun. This footage could provide insight into the facts about the incident. Some of the reasons why the police restrict the access of the videos are valid. The reasons may include: interfering with an ongoing investigation, intimate or private information of people such as their homes or exposed part of the body among others. But there are instances where the release of the footage to the public should be produced irrespective of the policies of a police department (celona and Larry). These instances include situations where police are accused of harassing or wrongly shooting individuals. The cameras are there to force the police to be accountable for their actions and without the access to the data, then the purpose of the whole exercise will not be achieved since the police will not be afraid of committing injustices.
The successful implementation of an effective police body cameras is possible as long as the public have the access to its footage. The factors which affect the system integration to the police force include freedom of access, transparency, and the private information captured by the cameras. Body cameras have a high potential of enhancing the policing of communities. People are likely to trust that the police will perform their duties if their actions are evaluated.
Anslem and Phillips. “Sunday editorila:Without acces,police body cameras won’t live up to promise.” 2 January 2017. Quad City Times. http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/sunday-editorial-without-access-police-body-cameras-won-t-live/article_e9e014c8-51a4-562a-9f3e-cdd1cde422f0.html. 5 April 2017.
Celona and Larry. “NYPD in a ‘Snap’ Judgment: PBA and Brass Resist Order to Carry Cameras.” 2013. New York POst. http://nypost.com/2013/08/14/nypd-in-a-snap-judgment-pba-and-brass-resist-order-to-carry-cameras. 14 August 2013.
Clark and Mark. “On-Body Video: Eye Witness or Big Brother?” 8 July 2013. Police Magazine. http://www.policemag.com/channel/technology/articles/2013/07/on-body-video-eye-witness-or-big-brother.aspx. 5 May 2017.