3 Important Police Body Camera Considerations to Remember Before Implementation
By March 2015, approximately one-third of the United States' 18,000 police departments had implemented the use of body cameras. Their introduction into the police force has had numerous positive impacts on law enforcement officer and civilian safety.
Where cruiser dash cameras aren't able to move with the officer, cameras worn by officers present the opportunity to record footage in the first-person view. While these technological advancements have had benefits for police departments and local communities alike, they're not without their own pitfalls. Before you decide to take the plunge, here are some body cam considerations to take into account.
- Data storage: Body camera data storage presents a massive cost and potential security risk. If these cameras are recording all day, every day, the amount of data storage needed to securely fit such a quantitative mass would be substantial and expensive. Plus, securely storing sensitive data incurs the chance of data breaches.
- Evidence: Jumping off body camera data storage, it stands to be argued that when "evidence" recorded on a body camera is presented in court, the legal system could fight its legitimacy. Bias can be argued against law enforcement data storage and burden of proof regarding video evidence being untampered with could be called into question.
- Privacy: There are blurry lines that define the legality of video consent in law enforcement. Citizens being constantly on recorded video raises legitimate privacy concerns. When is it acceptable and unacceptable to be recording people? Do police officers know when to exercise that discretion? Could it backfire on departments and strain communities? These are all important questions being raised from the relatively recent addition of body and dash cameras to the law enforcement field.
There are important questions raised when police departments consider adopting any recording devices. Merely knowing the benefits doesn't effectively help a department in the long run, especially when body camera or dash camera footage is primarily used to monitor officers and civilians alike. The gathering of public footage for evidence isn't a subject to be taken lightly, nor should it be used as a control method. Discussing your options, pros, and cons with your department and the greater community will ensure a level of communication and understanding that will leave you better able to protect and serve.