Police departments across the board are picking up body cameras for their officers to try to resolve this problem. The New York City Police Union, however, is fighting the movement, despite the advantages of police body cameras.
The New York Times reported on January 9, 2018 that the NYC Police department filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The New York Times tells us that, "The union, which represents nearly two-thirds of the city’s 36,000 officers, is seeking to stop the Police Department from requiring officers to wear body cams.”
The main issue at heart, in this case, is that the police department does not feel that the public should have access to these body cam videos. The force feels that the footage should not be released unless it is court ordered, especially for police shootings.
Robert J. Freeman, the executive director of the state committee on open government, stated that, "The mayor and the police commissioner have spoken to the need for increasing transparency into the way our city is policed. The release of body camera footage, when possible, is an important extension of that commitment."
Despite the major push-back that these body cameras are receiving by much of the police force across the country, they serve a very critical purpose. They keep the public and the police officers safe, to put it simply. For example, implementing body cameras in the Rialto California Police Department resulted in a decrease of force used by police officers by 60%. And police cameras aren't just worn on the body, either. Dashboard cameras help record all kinds of traffic incidents, keeping both citizens and police forces accountable.
Citizens' rights are much less at stake in police encounters when body cameras are present on the scene. The video footage can also help in many legal instances, like increasing the accuracy of police reports. No details can be left out or forgotten when it's all on tape.
Despite the resistance of cameras by the New York City Police Union, and many other police departments across the country, it is clear that they are necessary. The advantages of police body cameras are undeniable and need to be taken seriously by law enforcement officials everywhere.