Police Body-Mounted Cameras
Advancement in technology is shaping almost every profession in the world especially the invention of mobile phone as well as body cameras. With a Smartphone, one can record events in real time and post them on the internet. Body cameras can also help in recording events as they take place and in the United States, many departments have adopted the technology (Ariel et al., 2016). The cameras are mounted on their helmets, hats, lapels, sunglasses, uniform collars, or pockets and can produce high quality images even in low-lit conditions. The cameras are meant to give accurate record of officer engagements. However, the body cameras are argued for interference with privacy of the citizens, deterring individuals from coming forward to witness, and leading to limitations such as increased police assault, thus the law enforcers do not have to wear them.
Police body mounted cameras may interfere with the privacy of the public since they provide live footage of the happenings. They may capture civilian activities and police behavior that should not be recorded. For instance, bystanders may be captured against their wish interfering with their private lives. In addition, some police activities may require privacy yet the camera may record them. For instance, it may record a police officer while in the bathroom or a café during meal times in case, the officer forgets to switch it off. In cases of domestic violence or rape, the video recordings may be embarrassing to the victims since they capture individuals at the worst moments of their lives (Pearce, 2014). If such videos are uploaded on the internet, they can lead to psychological trauma in the victims and their relatives. Police may also misuse the cameras and expose peoples’ bedrooms and living rooms matters especially if allowed to enter private homes for investigations. Almost a third of the agencies do not have any written laws that guide the usage of cameras to balance transparency and privacy of the public. The cameras may record people who have not called for police services or the general public. For instance, people walking along a street in view of a law enforcement officer may be captured and their activities recorded. Police can be accused of infringing on citizens rights and face prosecution, loss of jobs, or psychological trauma.
Police body-worn cameras can alter the willingness of people to report crime or testify as witnesses in crime. According to a six-month research conducted in Denver, the devices can change the reporting behavior of crime by individuals (Ariel, 2016). Witnesses are afraid of giving testimonies of crime for fear of intimidation if the cameras have captured their images. Individuals at the scene of crime may appear in video recordings by the police body cameras yet such people may not want to be recognized. Consequently, they may fail to volunteer to record statements or give evidence during trials. This may hinder prosecution of criminals or police officers who commit crime due to inadequate evidence provided. The fact that the body-mounted cameras record events indiscriminately can put some individuals in danger because criminals or their relatives can intimidate them to discourage them from being witnesses to the crime committed. Other individuals may assume that the video recording by police is enough to provide the needed evidence therefore no need for witnesses. However, police may turn their cameras off and fail to record a scene of crime. In such cases, witnesses at the scene are required to record statements to aid in the arrest and prosecution of criminals. The assumption that the police body worn cameras are always switched on whenever police are on patrol or arresting law breakers may make the public less observant in crime scenes. They expect the technology to offer the necessary evidence to proof occurrence of a crime without their involvement. Crime prevention should involve use of technology and the cooperation by citizens to help in investigations. Sometimes police may find it difficult to convince courts that crime occurred and the suspect is guilty without witnesses to support them. This may lead to dismissal of cases even when the suspects are guilty affecting the confidence of the police. Despite the use of body cameras, police need back-up from the public to ensure prosecution of criminals.
Body-mounted cameras may lead to limitations such as assaults to the corps, misuse of the camera, technological malfunction, and turning off the camera to avoid recording some incidents. Corps that put on body cameras have a greater risk of being assaulted by the public. According to recent research violence against the police, wearing body-mounted cameras is 15% more than for those who do not wear them (Dvorsky, 2017). For instance, the camera may experience a technological malfunction leading to accusation of failure of the officers especially if misconduct occurs. The officer may be accused of intentionally interfering with the gadget and may be prosecuted. In other cases, the police may forget to switch on the camera thus may be accused of disobeying the security rules. In other cases, suspects may attack the officers if they realize that they are being filmed with hidden cameras to destroy any evidence. In some instance, the police switch of the cameras to avoid recording some incidences such as during arrests. In such cases, there may be no evidence against police officers accused of violence or mishandling of suspects. Since the officers can switch on and off the gadget, there is a possibility that some happenings may never be recorded for evidence (Ariel, et al., 2016). It may be good if body cameras are controlled by the operations center to ensure that they run constantly except during lunch, when in the bathroom, or when one is not on official duty. In such cases, the police may be accused of being accomplishes to crime. The police should not be victimized in case the cameras fail to record some situations due to technological failure or forgetfulness. Victimization can affect their performance in promoting security of the citizens.
In conclusion, police body cameras, may help in improving security but may have several limitations. Since the camera records the occurrences indiscriminately, it may interfere with the privacy of the citizens. This is against the US law and the police may be sued for exposing peoples’ private life. Therefore, laws that regulate the recording by the cameras are important to promote privacy of individuals. The cameras may also lead to increased assault on the law enforcement officers as some people may fight back or attack the police once they realize that the officers are recording them. Police body cameras may also discourage people from volunteering as witnesses leading to dismissal of cases due to lack of evidence. This undermines the daily work of the law enforcement officers due to lack of support from the citizens and other parties.