Argumentative Essay On Police Body Cameras

Michael Brown was shot dead by police on August 9th, 2014 and died in Ferguson, Missouri. This led to a cascade of events beginning with a Federal injection of $263 million to fund police training and body camera programs by December of the same year (Feeney, 2014). The US Department of Justice began the Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program (BWC-PIP), giving rise to the question on police body cameras.

 

These tiny cameras are worn on a police officer’s chest to record exchanges between the public and the officer. They also have a microphone to capture sound with internal data storage for video footage review. Want to know more? Take a look at this argumentative essay on police body cameras, showing why law enforcement agencies should adopt this habit en masse.

 

 What is The Hype About Police Body Cameras?

Evidence

The main benefit of police body cameras is the potential of using footage in a court of law. A police officer or member of the public may find their case severely lacking without this footage, depending on the case. Bottom-line, police body camera footage or those from their dash cams are immensely useful in court.

 

Violence Prevention

Police body cams also help prevent violence. The University of Cambridge discovered that law enforcement officers and respondents react less violently when police are wearing body cameras. In a study conducted in 2013, the university noted that people were less violent by 50% (CAM, 2014). This is very strong evidence suggesting that adoption of body cameras in law enforcement would lead to less violence.

 

Accountability

Police body cameras offer visual and audio evidence that independently verifies events. For instance, a police officer in Texas was charged fired and charged with murder following contradictory footage from his body camera from his initial statement in April 2017. He shot an unarmed youth, leading to the previously mentioned penalty as well as a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison (Neuman, 2018). A somewhat similar case occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, where a police officer fabricated evidence, was accused of misconduct and convicted as body cameras from fellow police officers caught him planting fake drug evidence.  A skeptic may ask about how police can benefit from this invasion of privacy. Camera footage protects police officers from false accusations of misconduct. For instance, police officers in San Diego, California, were exonerated against accusations of misconduct because of body camera evidence (Garrick, 2017).

 

Domestic Violence Cases

A camera can work wonders in court as it records the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence case. Injuries a victim may suffer from and their statements during this period are crucial and more honest compared to statements made later that may be tied to financial, emotional, and social ties to an abuser. Domestic violence victims further feel greater security when testifying if they have video evidence to back up their statements. Phil Prokopowicz, the former Chief Deputy of the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, said that that camera footage is very useful when resolving a domestic abuse case in terms of negotiations (Prather, 2015). In this case, the defendant sees the full extent of their actions and acknowledges what will be presented to the jury.

 

Reform Tool

Police body cameras provide accountability and transparency to the public. Former New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, was quoted saying that wearing recording devices is an attempt to remedy the damaged relationship between police departments and the community (McNamara, 2020). Video sourced from police dash and body cameras can help train new and existing police officers on the protocols to follow when they have a difficult encounter with the public. Taking particular recorded situations and using them as scenarios in training allows recruits, officers and students to discern what they did well, poorly, and areas to improve upon.

 

Expensive to Purchase and Maintain

President Obama’s $263 fund to equip police departments points to a major concern regarding the cost of buying and maintaining body cameras. They need to consider not only the cameras but ancillary equipment such as data storage facilities, training, a mount or car charger, extra technicians to manage video data as well as maintenance costs. It is also important to note that camera equipment will continue advancing, necessitating police departments to overhaul their costly outdated cameras to get new ones. This makes the venture expensive to maintain.

 

However, one could argue that some of these costs would be offset with lesser the legal repercussions to police departments resulting from civil lawsuits. While some of these cases are unwarranted, legal risks can damage a department’s credibility and result in financial losses to pay fines.

 

Invasion of Privacy

Police body cameras are an invasion of the police officer’s and the public’s privacy, theoretically subjecting communities to facial recognition software and exposing victims. An inadvertent risk of using police body cameras is that it could expose a person’s confidential medical conditions like mental illness. Crime victims such as domestic abuse or rape can further be traumatized when recordings of the ordeal are played in court. Witnesses or informants can also be harmed by police body cameras because of possible reprisal from criminals. It is also important to consider that some police encounters with the public are not violent. This may lead to some arrests damaging a person’s reputation, resulting in adverse repercussions such as getting fired from a job.

  

As Colin Dickey put it simply, “Surely ghosts will follow wherever there is bad record keeping.” Similarly, lack of transparency and accountability has led to the debate on the necessity of police body cameras. A detailed and truthful record of events is the contemporary form of policing. Police officers that conduct their duties diligently would arrest individuals that pose a legitimate threat to the public or themselves. They would handle situations differently, leading to an overall change in perception concerning the police. The police exist to protect the public. We must remain vigilant of their activities if they appear to sway from this doctrine.

 

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References

CAM. (2014, December 23). First Scientific Report shows police body-worn-cameras can prevent unacceptable use-of-force. University of Cambridge. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/first-scientific-report-shows-police-body-worn-cameras-can-prevent-unacceptable-use-of-force

Feeney, N. (2014, December 1). Obama requests $263m to address 'simmering distrust' after Ferguson. Time. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from https://time.com/3613058/obama-ferguson-police-body-cameras-funding/

Garrick, D. (2017, February 10). San Diego police body cameras reducing misconduct, aggressive use of force, report says. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-san-diego-body-cameras-20170210-story.html

 Neuman, S. (2018, August 30). Texas officer who fatally shot Black Teen is sentenced to 15 years in prison. NPR. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2018/08/30/643207427/texas-officer-who-fatally-shot-black-teen-sentenced-to-15-years-in-prison

Prather, S. (2015, April 26). Police body cameras are newest tool against domestic violence. Star Tribune. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from https://www.startribune.com/police-body-cameras-are-newest-tool-against-domestic-violence/301380871/

 

 

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University
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Literature
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Write an argumentative essay on police body cameras. Your paper should have a minimum of 900 words.

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