Law Enforcement Use of Body Worn Cameras

Date

2017

Authors

Waldroup, Brian

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Publisher

Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)

Abstract

Law enforcement has comes under fire more and more in the technological era. The advent of social media and camera phones has become a weapon in the hands of those who lobby against police officers and how they deal with the public. Police departments around the world have been combating this issue by arming their officers with their own style for recording citizen contacts. The body-worn camera is the newest of these recording devices made for documenting citizen contacts. These new cameras have done well in the law enforcement community as far as quick action taken by police departments in citizen complaints whereas, before, it was a long process (White, 2014). The camera adds a unique third party witness component (International Association of Chiefs of Police [IACP] , 2014). The third party witness can alter the conduct of both the officer and the citizen for the better. The theory behind this is that if a person knows they are being recorded, then they will alter their behavior for the better. However, while there are concerns about the cameras by the public that deal with privacy (Erstad, 2016), the Freedom of Information Act gives access to anyone to view sensitive situations and the citizens involved. Another concern for the cameras is the cost of the camera and the storage. Strong policies put in place by departments can minimize privacy issues, and government grants are available to police agencies with depleted budgets. Body-worn cameras are a good tool for law enforcement transparency and should be implemented by any agency for their officers.

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