The Advantages Of Police Departments Using Body Cameras
There has been a recent growth in demand for accountability on the parts of police officers. Of course, there has always been a need to hold police officers accountable — they’re only human, and sometimes mistakes are made by complete accident. However, that doesn’t mean that those who make such mistakes shouldn’t be held responsible and disciplined when necessary. The issue with this is that, as much as departments may want to hold officers accountable, there is sometimes a difference in one witness statement versus another. The officer might genuinely not remember everything that transpired during an event — or they might be purposefully evading the truth. A bystander could just easily be mistaken or even lying. The only thing that can testify to the truth is an impartial witness; this is best provided in the form of video. Of course, not all events happen under the watchful eyes of security cameras. Therefore, it is the responsibility of police departments to equip officers with body and dash-mounted cameras. Body cams and dash cams alike can ensure that police officers not only are held accountable, but learn from their mistakes and become better officers. In the past, dash and body worn cameras for police were rather expensive, and difficult for departments to afford. Now there are more affordable options on the market. The revenue for these cameras is growing — in 2013, it was globally valued at US $1,458.2 Mn and is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 15.3% from 2014 to 2020. Let’s look into what sets dash and body worn cameras for police apart from each other, and why they’re vital today.
What’s The Difference Between Dash And Body Worn Cameras For Police?
There is obviously a practical difference between dash and body worn cameras for police. Dash cams are mounted on dashboards of patrol cars, while body cameras are usually affixed to the officers’ uniforms. Therefore, their functions and values are different as well. Dash cams are usually best applied to highway patrol officers. Most of the time, the officer will be parked behind a person they’ve pulled over, and therefore the dash cam captures all of the officer’s actions, and the actions of the people they’re interacting with, from a third-party perspective. Conversely, a body camera has a more limited perspective, and therefore can be a bit more difficult to comprehend on a visual level. With that being said, it’s clear when a body camera has been removed, and it is difficult to evade. If an officer is aware of the placement of a dash camera, they can move off camera, potentially rendering the account useless.
How Do Cameras Aid In Accountability?
As previously mentioned, it can be difficult for law enforcement to move forward when witness statements are conflicting. When something is caught on camera, it’s much more difficult to dispute, and makes a case — hopefully — more cut and dry. A body camera isn’t just about making sure that police are accountable. They can also help piece together events that happened under high-stress, fast-paced conditions. Therefore, if a crime occurs on camera, it will be easier to solve. This is especially important in crisis situations, like shoot-outs. Adrenaline can make it difficult for even officers to recall every detail; the body cameras and dash cams make it so that they don’t have to.
How DO Cameras Improve Relations Between Police And Civilians?
It’s undeniable that in recent years, police and civilian relations have suffered to a certain extent in some areas. Rather than add to those tensions, cameras let civilians know that police departments are doing their best to hold officers accountable. They also make civilians aware that there is a system of “checks and balances” at work, in a sense. Officers don’t have free reign over everything, and do have to abide by laws just as civilians do. Body cameras make that simpler, and more visible to everyone involved.