Get In Focus: Law Enforcement Departments Should Strongly Consider Body Cameras


By: Ali Sabzevari
For quite some time now, law enforcement departments have used dash-mounted cameras in patrol cars, and for the most part, they have been effective in preserving the events leading up to and during an arrest.  Several law enforcement agencies, however, are expanding to the use of body-mounted video cameras.
Take for instance the Scottsdale Police Department, which recently announced that it is starting to implement a new on-the-body video camera into its standard protocol for officers.  The department purchased 10 Axon Flex body cameras, which can be worn on hats, glasses or even collars.  Last year, the Oakland Police Department implemented body-mounted cameras, and the Warner Robins Police Department outfitted one of their K-9s with a camera that allowed for the handler to have a “dog’s eye view,” so to speak.
Although body cameras and software can cost thousands of dollars, some believe that when they are utilized properly, both the officer’s behavior and the subject’s behavior are better because they know that everything is being recorded.  In fact, a study by Cambridge University determined that the use of cameras not only improves behavior, but reduces use of force incidents by 59 percent and reduces complaints by a whopping 87.5 percent.
Clearly cameras prevent officers and the people they encounter from doing something they might later regret.  Cameras also provide a better range of evidence and a more consistent point of view.  These devices can also assist officers when writing their reports and assist their attorneys in the event a lawsuit is filed.
Although the benefits listed above are not exhaustive and the true effect still uncertain, police departments should strongly consider body cameras as standard equipment.  Perhaps doing so will better improve behavior on both sides of the badge, and at the same time, decrease the amount of civil lawsuits against counties, municipalities, and their departments and officers.