Police departments nationwide have begun experimenting with body camera use. However, this has inspired many critics to come out against body camera use and warn others of the potential “dangers” of their use. An example of this kind of criticism can be found in an article written on a Bloomberg editorial board. In this article, the author makes several claims against the use of body cameras. The first argument the author makes is that video recordings are not helpful because they lack context and they can mislead juries. This claim is invalid for many reasons. First of all, if an officer is forced to wear a body camera at all times while they are on duty, the context of the situation will not be ambiguous. The viewer of the video will be able to see the events that happened leading up to an altercation, as well as what happened during the altercation.
The second reason this claim is invalid is because the author is implying that just because video recordings are somewhat fallible, they should not be used at all. I find this logic very simplistic and unconvincing. It is better to have some recording of a situation than no recording at all. Yes, it is true that there might be bad lighting or an unhelpful angle on a video recording, but this only happens some of the time. Also, just because a video recording is unhelpful does not mean the audio recording is not useful. If the image is blurry but the audio still records an officer committing a crime, then the body camera was useful.
In this article, the author also argues that body cameras could “erode trust between citizens and law enforcement.” Not only is this claim unsupported, it does not make logical sense. While it is true that some citizens may feel uncomfortable being recorded, this does not necessarily mean they will distrust police officers. On the contrary, it would make more logical sense that body cameras increase trust in police officers because citizens know the officer is being held accountable for their actions. Citizens should have more trust that they will be treated fairly because the officer would not risk engaging in misconduct when they are being recorded.
According to a Rialto, CA study done on the use of body cameras, there is evidence that the use of body cameras both decreased the use of force by officers and decreased the number of complaints against officers. Based on these findings, body cameras force officers to act properly when dealing with citizens and they are less likely to use force. This shows that body camera use actually aids the relationship between the police and citizens and does not “erode trust” like the author claims.