Should All Police Officers Wear Body Cameras?

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Putting body cameras on all law enforcement officers might help prevent the next Ferguson, Missouri, said the Obama administration on Monday while requesting $263 million for a fund that would aim to improve the apparent schism between minority communities and municipal police departments.

Of that total, approximately $75 million would be appropriated for body cameras. Should Congress approve the proposal, the federal dollars would be available to the states so long as they put up 50 percent of the funding.

With that kind of funding in place upwards of 50,000 cameras could make their way to departments around the country, nearly doubling the amount of video recording devices currently in use by police.

“In five years, this will be ubiquitous,” Jim Bueermann, the president of the Police Foundation, told Bloomberg News. “It will be more unusual to see officers not wearing a body cam than wearing one.”

Given that things are headed in this direction, what are your thoughts? Do you believe all police officers should be equipped with body cameras? Would it help to reduce objectionable police behavior?

{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Steve Warren November 11, 2016, 9:59 am

    Body cams would be a tool like any other.
    Cameras could be reviewed to see if the officer was following departmental policy or not.
    Cameras could be used to verify citizens alleging complaints (falsely).
    In the interest of privacy, it should require a court order to obtain a copy of incidents.

  • Mike Weddle December 11, 2014, 7:53 pm

    I am all for it, after, and only after, all politicians (i.e. elected officials) are required and equipped to wear body cameras with audio recorders and punitive measures taken if ever deactivated.

  • shootbrownelk December 9, 2014, 4:13 am

    Lee Blackman has the right idea. All politicians required to wear body cameras (tamper-proof of course) and of course all White house staffers and most importantly…President O’Bummer and “Buckshot” Biden. That’d be change that I’D believe in!
    REAL transparancy in government!

  • Ralph Zeltman December 8, 2014, 9:24 pm

    Should All Police Officers Wear Body Cameras? It may not be a bad idea if these body cameras are worn by law enforcement officer as long as they do not interfere with their ability to perform. The cameras might have provided more visual evidence in the Fergusson, Mo. case that would have shown the officer confronted with an out of control 6 ft 4 inch 285 pound Michael Brown charging the officer rather than raising his hands in a submissive surrender position. Who knows if cameras would have changed these activists who generally want to loot and cause civil disobedience in other towns and cities other than their own? The other thought is the added expense for these cameras that will place an even greater burden on police department budgets that might result in furthering the depletion of an already under staffed department. I would be for the cameras if they would provide what actually occurred and although a very small percentage, make the questionable police officers follow protocol in the performance of their police work.

  • Russ December 8, 2014, 9:08 pm

    I don’t have a problem with “police behavior”
    I have a problem with disrespect for the police and idiots that don’t comply.
    I sure the hell wouldn’t want to be a cop, dealing with assholes all day long.
    But if I were, I would ware a cam for my own protection.
    I real bullshit clarifier for the courts and media to see.

  • Dave N December 8, 2014, 8:04 pm

    I think it’s a good idea, but then again, my parents were smart enough to teach me to be respectful towards cops. I am almost 50 and to this day I still call older men sir and cops sir! If you don’t teach a child respect early in life don’t expect them to have any respect when they are older! Just my point of view.

  • Joshua W December 8, 2014, 7:11 pm

    There are pros and cons for us guns rights activists, and proud flag bearers to consider. However after contemplating these facts, I’m going to say YES. A few of many reasons are; Cops can lie and falsify reports. Body cameras would make it harder to do that. What if your daughter is assaulted. it would aid in the capture. What if an officers is gunned down, and what he saw in his last moments of life, was the killer, also being connected with another crime similar nature. The world should advance to use the technology we have for our grater good. No, I dont feel it would be an invasion of privacy. They have them on their cars. Why not. Cops serve a good purpose… If they are good people… So long as our hearts still beat red, the advancement of man kind only insures our freedom.

  • George December 8, 2014, 4:46 pm

    I think no matter what the evidence the ignorant are still going to riot and loot. They may protect good cops and maybe catch bad ones although I doubt it. Lets face it bad cops like good criminals and bad politicans know the rules and how to get around them. The one thing I have yet to hear from our President, Attorney General, or other public official is just comply with the officer. You can not win a fight with a cop on the street only in front of a judge.

  • Gary December 8, 2014, 3:41 pm

    If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then video with audio is priceless. The statistics, though they can be manipulated, show a huge drop in misconduct charges where implemented. It protects both parties from lies and conflicting stories. There are innocent cops in jail because the dash cam had a bad angle or blocked view. I would want to wear one if i was a cop. Now the high school bullies that became cops may not. But the honorable cops that i remember from my childhood shouldnt have any reservations.

  • Phil December 8, 2014, 2:52 pm

    My hangup about these body cameras is how officers might behave because they are wearing them. No doubt they would improve accountability, which is absolutely needed. The logical thought here is that they would be less likely to perform un-ethical actions, which is probably true, and this would be a good result. But, what’s also probably true, is that it’s going to make a bunch of officers less likely to be proactive in stopping law-breakers. The Michael Brown’s of the world, instead of being pursued and stopped, will go on and commit more crimes, possibly violent ones, because the officer was scared of getting in trouble during the pursuit.

    I think, ultimately, what this will turn into, is police departments/individual officers having to have exorbitant amounts of insurance to deal with lawsuits, as doctors do nowadays with malpractice. The end result, I suspect, won’t be for the better.

  • Robert December 8, 2014, 2:51 pm

    I think ALL POLITICIANS should be required to wear body camera with audio 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Tom Evans December 8, 2014, 2:35 pm

    Since so many “elements” in our society are more than willing to lie about what actually happened in a given incident with police I think the use of body cameras is becoming essential. I also happen to think its a d–n shame that it should be necessary!!

  • Captain Bob December 8, 2014, 2:23 pm

    Add me to the list of folks who think body cameras on police officers is a good idea. In fact, I didn’t see one comment that thought it was a bad idea. The majority of officers have nothing to worry about; the few ‘bad apples” will either “straighten up” or be fired in short order. It would be a “win-win” for citizens and good police officers.

    • Dusty December 9, 2014, 4:05 am

      FYI for all of you body cam fans- It is not a zero cost device even if the Feds pay for it. It costs a significant amont of money to employ the folks that will archive, retrieve and comply with public records requests. Very significant money. Departments will be forced to reduce sworn staffing or increase budgets (higher taxes) to pay for it. Will the ‘public’ be so charitable when there is no officer available to respond to their complaints? I doubt it. Remember too- when you allow an officer wearing a camera into your house to investigate a burglary, or a domestic dispute, or screaming child reported by a passerby- The interior of your home will now be a matter of public record- the investgation for which you want ‘tranparency’ will be available to your neighbors, your friends, your kid’s school- anyone amd everyone nosey enough to want to see it. The bad guys will know what you have and where it is. They will also be able to see what kind of security you have too…
      I am starting my 30th year. I can assure you that dash cams can also cause the same expenses to your local Departments. Complying with public records requests is expensive. If the Dept. takes “too long” it gets fined. Would you rather have cops protecting you or hire a lot of IT people who don’t?
      And FWIW- Dash cams were originally meant to monitor traffic stops, or perhaps other public contacts- for “public safety”, and “accountability”:- it is usually asserted… A little secret is what they also do is ‘backdoor’ a way around two-party consent laws- there may not be video of the cops response to an argument with your teenager- but the audio IS being recorded, and IS a retrievable public record.
      Sadly, another thing it tends to do is discourage many officers from making traffic stops and stopping suspicious people- the increased scrutiny by folks with ‘agendas’ tends to come with draconian punishments for perceived non-compliance or equipment snafus. Cops are often bound by a version of the Napoleonic code- guilty until proven innocent- it may not be fair, but it’s the way it is.
      Bottom line, if an officer is wearing a body camera, he or she is not coming into my home. I will ‘chat’ out in the rain or whatever, but not inside- Unlike some of the body cam proponents- I value my privacy.

  • Dan C December 8, 2014, 12:31 pm

    I’m all in with Lee Blackman above: put cameras on anyone in a position of public trust. That means not just politicians, but CEOs of “limited liability corporations”, preachers, teachers, doctors, non-profit organizations, etc., but especially politicians and lawyers. We no longer vote for someone because we know them and trust them: we vote for the lesser of two evils, but still evil. It’s not like we are given real choices, so they shouldn’t be given any chances to betray our trust. The situation in Ferguson was all around bad (a cop confronting a belligerant suspect solo? I’ll leave judgement of that to the cops already commenting here.), and the people of Ferguson probably feel disenfranchised even more than the rest of us do when we try to understand how officials get themselves into the daily messes we see on television. It’s hard to see any common sense at all being used, let alone how to join the communities together. My experience in government was that you couldn’t get any useful work done without a conspiracy to circumvent some rule or another. I suggest that we eliminate the paperwork by putting cameras on everyone, and let the public filter the good from the bad on YouTube. Privacy? This is America: You’re already on some camera, somewhere.

  • Mike Ryan December 8, 2014, 11:55 am

    Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon to connect all police to body camera’s, I think in an depth study is in order. My first thought is that it will hinder police from getting involved in, let’s say a domestic dispute (for example), and due to their hesitancy a spouse gets seriously hurt or killed.

    I’m not saying body camera’s are not a good idea, I just think all the options shoul be considered.

    • Trotsky December 8, 2014, 2:35 pm

      Body cameras won’t work, because cops will make sure they don’t work, through whatever means necessary. They did it with dash cams and they will do it with body cams.
      As far as avoiding getting involved–first that would be pretty apparent, “You rode around your whole shift, refused to answer calls, and did nothing?”

  • Mike S. December 8, 2014, 11:06 am

    I think that everybody should work along side a police officer for a week at least and then comeback with some of these answers to frivolous questions. If you comply with an officers request you’ll have nothing to worry about. How many times does “Show me your hands” have to be said before there is compliance to the command. Are the people deaf, are they stoned, are they brain dead. Bad people deserve what they get. If you “Do the crime” …..your gonna do the time!

  • ScottyD December 8, 2014, 10:43 am

    Several issues – if we focus only on the cop/citizen interaction I think the camera is a very good thing. Even a routine stop can go way bad in a split second. The camera would provide more evidence. However if the camera can be easily disabled, then it’s a waste of money. If the camera footage is going to be used to nitpick an officer’s behavior, used by management to micromanage an officer, then cops will find a way to disable them. If the footage was only available in the case of an incident or a complaint then I think most hesitation by cops will go away.

  • Mike Kay December 8, 2014, 10:29 am

    Should all cops wear body cams? Absolutely. It will keep all involved parties honest.

    • Ok May 26, 2015, 7:55 am

      I used to be against the body camera idea, until it occured to me that normal people need to see what the police see. People need to see all the “giant giants” in their glory. All the “innocent victims” of police brutality. People should hear how saying “good morning” can spark a 10 minute outburst about “harassing” people. People should hear and witness a child getting disciplined for waving back or smiling at a cop.

      Police body cameras will be very enlightening, but I am sure that the ACLU or Sharton’s NAN will make sure what is shown will be less than “transparent”.

  • Michael December 8, 2014, 10:28 am

    Unfortunately, I think all the wanna-be “victims”, and the left-wing media, have forced the police officers to have to protect themselves. I personally know many LEO’s, some for decades; not a single one has wanted to do anything but help, protect, and to serve.I would hate for any of them to have to face what Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo are facing, so from that aspect alone, cameras might be a good thing.

    • Lenin December 8, 2014, 2:31 pm

      You sure are either incredibly naive or willfully blind.

      • Russ December 10, 2014, 6:41 pm

        Lenin, snap out of it
        Cops are people, and so are you.
        Are you always perfect and never make mistakes?
        Wake up from your dream and set down your Kool-Aid
        Guys like Obama and Holder want to cause civil unrest so they can call in the U.N.
        You better respect our American Police Force, believe it or not, they care.
        Because after you discredit them and make them irrelevant, they’ll be calling the U.N. in to Police us.
        That force wont be made up of Americans, and they wont give a dam about you.
        They will want to disarmed you as well, and we will all be one step closer to Obama’s “One World Order”
        Can you see that, or are you blind?
        Can you believe it, or are you Naive?
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6ksk03aO6OI

        If Obama is cutting down our military forces to pre world war 1 times, what’s this for;

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=aPBbbAeyOE0

  • Lee Blackman December 8, 2014, 10:03 am

    Why not make all the politicians wear body camera’s when they go into these closed door meetings. And the president. How about some actual transparency in government. I’m getting really tired of the news media being an outlet for what others want me to see, rather than actually getting to see the truth for myself.

    • Lars December 8, 2014, 11:44 pm

      Yes, Lee, and add mandatory drug/alcohol tests for Congress, their aides, and their pages. Hell, _any_ gov’t worker should be randomly drug/alcohol tested. They’re here to help us. So, with a zero tolerance policy, we’d lose 7/8 of them after the first test.

      I’m for body cams, too. They should do much more good than harm.

    • Russ December 10, 2014, 1:42 pm

      Excellent Idea Lee!
      Since they work for us let’s keep them straight and do what we want them to.
      I’m beyond tired of the bullshit.

  • Mark December 8, 2014, 9:50 am

    I am a retired police officer. I have 26 years in patrol, as a detective and in crime scene/forensics, am a police firearms instructor and now am an adjunct instructor for criminal justice at a college. My experience has shown that mobile video recorders in patrol vehicles that were initially frowned upon have resulted in police officers being cleared in false complaints by the public. Similarly, recording of incoming and outgoing calls at the police headquarters/precincts have cleared officers in complaints related to their language, demeanor, etc. Body cameras will have the same effect. The issue is not the recording media, when it is used and how it is used. The issue is what police administration and prosecutors do when false complaints surface and are proved false due to the recording devices. These administrators, chiefs, prosecutors and of course the politicians who come with the government all choose not to take action against the false complaints. I have observed and been told words to the effect: “we can’t do that (prosecute the false accusations) because we need to ensure the public is not afraid to make a complaint.” The costs in conducting internal investigations, the moral and morale effect, the waste of time on false claims, allegations and the lack of prosecution for the false allegations requires that those who are found to be making such false claims be prosecuted. Body cameras will become the next device used to monitor police actions. What we need is a mechanism to keep the public in check, too. Sanctimonious behavior by the citizenry, backed by politicians who want their moment of fame and headlines or a spot on the news are not effected by the truth. Let us remember that all the evidence in Ferguson, MO has found that the deceased robbery suspect and individual committing aggravated assault on a police officer did not have his hands up, was not surrendering and yet the politicians and media alike ignore the facts that were ultimately released by the prosecutor. Likewise, video in NYC of the cigarette sales death did not result in a prosecution or indictment. The issue in NYC and State is who made the absurd law and issued orders to police to arrest people for sales of single cigarettes. I don’t have all the evidence, only video results of that arrest effort and subsequent death of the suspect. I don’t see how video would have altered the grand jury decision (as we have seen it didn’t), because what happens in the grand jury is prosecutor controlled, not police controlled.

    OK, to long a statement, just my 2 cents from all the years of experience.

    • Socrates December 8, 2014, 2:30 pm

      Your world view/bias is so pro-police your statements are meaningless to the point of being absurd.
      You believe that the police–you know, the ones choking people to death over the sale of loosies (Which even you think is stupid.) and getting away with it–are the most likely victims that need to be protected. That is simply ridiculous. You need to realize, even though you may be the one perfect cop, that police tactics almost always (I’ve never seen different tactics and I worked on the street for 30 years as a medic.) involve threatening, bullying, use of physical force and other anti-social tactics. Flat out, in 30 years, I have never seen an encounter between a citizen and a cop where the cop didn’t lie–even when it wasn’t necessary. (This is anecdotal, I know, and don’t claim to know how every cop acts.) They lied in most of their encounters with EMS and fire services personal, when they didn’t need to.
      If you are honest to yourself, you will realize that what we need are cops who believe it is their duty to actually serve the pubic, that they are not ‘special,’ not above the law and that not everyone cares, or even thinks, about them, much less wants to hurt them. Looked at objectively, you would realize the degree of paranoia exercised by police–that everyone is out to hurt them and therefore, must be hurt first–rises to the level of mental illness.
      Objectively, you would realize, too that we don’t need body cameras. We need police who believe in enforcing the law and providing for order. Who believe escalating encounters is a bad idea, instead of the thing to do. And who know and believe, they are not above the law and do not want to be above the law.
      All body cameras will do is try to make cops more accountable for their malfeasance, it won’t stop them from being malfeasant. Now, they are more than willing to kill people in full view of what has become a sea of video cameras, why will body cams make this different? They work by making the cop more afraid of the consequences of committing illegal acts. We do not need more ‘scared’ cops, that means more people will get hurt by the cops.
      I predict, in questionable situations, cops will manage to defeat body cams like they have learned to defeat dash cams. These will be marvels of technology with failure rates far exceeding the failure rate of ignitions in Chevy Cobalts; but only in situations cops want to commit crimes. I doubt most cops will be able to get over the thought that their employment entitles them to insult, threaten, manipulate, lie, bully and beat on the people they are sworn to serve; so body cameras will have no effect.
      You, sir, are not part of a solution; you are the PROBLEM.

      • Russ December 10, 2014, 1:36 pm

        Holy Shit! “medic”
        You need to fact check.
        Where do you get your news, from John Stewart?
        You just ranted without any legitimacy.
        And then all the solutions you came up with could be had by having cops warring a camera.
        I’m not a cop, but I have a great respect for them.
        If you have nothing to hide, comply and there will be no problem, and you can both laugh about it later.
        Join the real world, get some respect, and don’t put down someone like Mark that knows exactly what’s going on.
        If we lived in your fantasy land with pussy cops or no cops, you wouldn’t make it.

        Ant -gun guy alert!
        You have to know the opposition reads these forums, right?
        Phoney names, twisted facts & opinions.
        Misinformed or uneducated on firearms or related subjects.
        What could be their agenda?

      • Ross Bonny November 11, 2016, 3:13 pm

        “All body cameras will do is try to make cops more accountable for their malfeasance, it won’t stop them from being malfeasant.”

        Being accountable for proven malfeasance doesn’t stop one from committing malfeasance? What legal system do you live in?

  • bigbarry December 8, 2014, 9:41 am

    I hate to say this but AT TIMES police are out of control . So YES I think all law enforcement officers should be required to wear a camera . There are to many officers that are BADGE HEAVY remember they are here TO PROTECT AND SERVE everyone .

  • Phil December 8, 2014, 9:18 am

    I have no problem with body cameras, I don’t feel it’s the federal government’s responsibility to provide them though. The federal government is too involved in too much local law enforcement the way it is.

  • Dan December 8, 2014, 9:16 am

    Cameras are tools, just like batons or lights. It should be the discretion of each police department to determine what equipment their staff require to carry out their mission in their local community, not the federal government. To make the funding available to help with the purchase, should that be the decision, is a good thing; but not if tied to requirements that the Fed decides is necessary to allow the purchase. I’m suspicious of anything proposed or implemented by this President.

  • Phil Ferguson December 8, 2014, 8:46 am

    I believe cameras are a good idea. However, I doubt that will prevent another Ferguson, Mo. The evidence was pretty clear without a camera and they still chose to riot and loot. The grand jury heard accounts from the officer shooting him the back of the head while he was kneeling with his hands up to the actual account. If the situation brings in Sharpton, Obama and Holder, we will still see the rioting.

  • pete December 8, 2014, 8:13 am

    Me personally, have always said police officers should be wearing body cameras. Im sick and tire of all these videos that are surfacing on the action of police officers and not the actions of the perps/subjects.
    I feel with the body cams it will illuminate false accusations against the officer(s), and it will show the interactions with civilians from the very beginning of contact.
    Now for thoses officers that are heavy handed and less professional ~ the body cam will be a wake up call and eventually have to change their ways.

  • Greg December 8, 2014, 6:54 am

    When we got dashcams for the cars, everybody hated the thought of them until one saved the bacon of my best patrolman. Spouse of a very senior officer miserably failed a field sobriety test, and blew a 0.00. High as a kite, and lied like a rug to spouse. Multi-starred spouse highly pissed until he saw the video, Good karma all the way around on that one. As an ex-patrolman, I would love to have had a recording of every asshat I got involved with. I also think departments should release the recordings on-line as a matter of public record, every day. I can’t think of a better advertisement for how much good, good cops do on a normal day.

  • Chip December 4, 2014, 2:45 pm

    Body cameras for police are a very good idea, IMO.

    Not only will it help protect cops that are good – and help to convict those that are bad – it will do the same for the people that the cops interact with. It may help deter bad behavior (from both cops and citizens) before it even occurs. It is not a perfect solution, but it is a good step to take.

  • Chip December 4, 2014, 2:44 pm

    Body cameras for police are a very good idea, IMO.

    Not only will it help protect cops that are good – and help to convict those that are bad – it will do the same for the people that the cops interact with. It is not a perfect solution, but it is a good step, and a substantial one.

  • Mike December 2, 2014, 3:35 pm

    I think the time is right for always on body cameras.
    They will protect us citizens from the few bad police officers, and protect police officers from the few jerk citizens.

    Just need to have common sense policies around data retention for things like privacy of those being recorded, and the police having the ability to selectively erase content they don’t like.

    How hard can this really be?

    • Mike K December 9, 2014, 10:33 am

      I just wish politicians were as transparent as they seem to want police officers to be. Sure, 99% of the time a camera would protect the cop. But.the camera still doesn’t show that the cop is reacting to the situation, and not the race of the subject he or she is dealing with. Neither of these recent tragic incidents were caused by race. One was the result of a criminal thug and the other was a bunch of stupid cops WAY over reacting.

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