Police cams should be required

September 5, 2014 Editorials Print Print

Police officers are frequently criticized for abusing their authority. It seems as though every week, several new videos are uploaded to YouTube depicting officers of the law behaving unsuitably or physically abusing citizens.

While the majority of police officers join the force with pure intentions, there are still those who misuse their authority and misbehave. And when those few do get caught, it imprints a negative image of police everywhere.

Recently, many police departments from around the country started testing body cameras on their officers. The cameras are typically a small lapel device used to document interactions between police and citizens. Like Big Brother, body cameras are intended to keep an eye out for inappropriate behavior.

Police officers and criminal suspects are less likely to misbehave if they know they’re being recorded. In a recent Cambridge University study, the police department in Rialto, California, saw an 89 percent decline in the number of complaints against officers in a year-long trial using the cameras. After the study, cameras become mandatory for the department’s roughly 100 officers.

A few months ago in Colorado, Denver police started testing body cameras.

According to a video interview of Denver Police Chief Robert White, “ … under policy, the officer must turn the camera on when they’re with a citizen. There are some cases where the camera can be turned off. We had to be mindful of hospitals and other circumstances of where it wouldn’t be appropriate to have it activated.”

Denver Police plans to acquire 800 cameras for its entire police force. Not only do these cameras benefit civilians but the recordings also can help prove false accusations of excessive force against police officers.

In Oklahoma, Choctaw police have used body cameras for close to a year now and have responded positively to the results. Choctaw police department officials said body cameras are cheaper than dash cameras.

Oklahoma City and Edmond police also have considered making body cameras mandatory.

A petition has begun on Change.org to require City of Moore police officers to wear body cameras while on duty. The petition originates from an incident where Moore police officers restrained a man during an argument between his wife and daughter. A few hours after police restrained the man, he died.

The best witness to any case is a camera.

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