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The Reasons Why Police Officers Should Wear Body Cameras

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Jesse Williams once said, “Even with videotaped evidence of police destroying black people, many freedom-loving Americans remain unconvinced of a systemic problem.” (Williams) It’s always tricky determining whether or not police officers should wear body cameras or not because we live in a country where the justice system is unjust. Police officers should not only wear body cameras when it comes to black lives, but all lives. Despite the unjust that is within the justice system, there is still faith that this country can break those chains and rise above. All police officers’ actions should be thoroughly evaluated, especially when they have committed an unspeakable crime, where they are clearly in the wrong. It can be inserted that police officers deal with a great deal of pressure, given their jobs, duties, and responsibilities. Police officers have a lot to deal with and some even see heinous crimes throughout their career as a police officer causing mental effects that can make the job even more challenging. Police officers are put in place to serve, protect, and enforce, but that doesn’t mean they get to act as if rules don’t apply to them. All police officers are not good police officers, and the ones who are good are looked at as bad because all it takes is for one police officer to do or say the wrong thing, and then the whole department is under constant attack and constant watch. It can also be inserted that with police departments being understaffed, police departments are rushing the process for officers to graduate, causing police officers to react off uncertainty when they are placed in a situation and the next thing they do is pull their gun, when there are other routes to take. According to Issues and Controversies: Overviews and Pro/Con Arguments, police officers are equipped in using deadly force especially when they make a judgement call that it’s necessary. If police officers are placed in a situation where they can make a judgment to use deadly force, opening the doors for someone to be seriously injured or even killed; then any and all actions taken by police should be filmed. The trust that is supposed to be instilled within police officers from U.S. citizens, and within communities is simply not there anymore and the trust will remain to be lost until police departments step up to the plate and do what they have to do, and that’s to make sure that all police officers are wearing body cameras. An article states, “Body cameras will improve law enforcement and reduce incidents of police brutality. Body cameras will help reward good police work as well as hold unruly officers accountable for their actions”.

To some police officers, it’s not about protecting and serving, it’s about the power and control that comes with the job. Being that police officers are entitled to so much power and control over citizens, police departments should definitely require officers to wear body cameras. There’s a saying, “hurt people, hurt people,” and a lot of the people who we find in the criminal justice departments as well as law enforcement departments have been through rough upbringings as a child, teenager, and even as a young adult, and serving some aspect of the community allows them to take back what was taken from them by becoming a role model to others and stepping up to plate to make sure that children, teenagers, and even young adults don’t experience the same things they experienced; however, some police officers see serving their community as a way to maneuver around the hurt that has been caused to them, only to hurt others who are innocent and it becomes an uncontrolled desire, and before you know it, they’ve hurt many. There was an incident in Birmingham, Alabama where CBS news reported that, “an officer staged a shooting to make it look like he was under attack” (CBS News). How many people have to fall victim to police brutality before police departments say enough is enough? According to Harvard Law Review, “Body cameras are a powerful and indiscriminate technology…. The hope is that video recording or police-civilian interactions will deter officer misconduct”. Police departments should not be so fast to get their hopes up as if body cameras will automatically erase the hurt and pain that has been caused at the hands of police officers, but realize that healing takes time and enforcing body cameras is a good sign of hope and faith to building better relationships within communities and with citizens. As much as police departments may want to ignore this issue, they do have police officers who are not under control and this will cause many issues within police departments. Having uncontrolled officers will always give police departments a bad name. Citizens want to believe that all officers have their best interests and will do right by them in any situation, but are gradually coming to the realization that’s not always the case with many officers. Many police officers are entering into situations where citizens are exercising their first amendment right to film police because in 2019, a failure to properly signal when changing lanes turns into a person getting gunned down in their car by police, that’s not something that is supposed to happen, but it happens anyway. If you think about it, why is it police departments have no problem with filming a suspect in interrogation, but want to explore other options when it comes to down to filming officers’ action upon entering certain situations with citizens? If you ask me, it’s the same reasons as to why police officers should wear body cameras.

Although police officers are not as respected as they were 20 years ago, the lives of police officers still matter; however, the lives of police officers will only matter when the lives of the people they swore to protect and serve matter. An article states, “Police body cameras are a good tool for learning and have strong support from members of the public” (Police body Camera: Top 3 Pros and Cons). The use of body cameras can be very beneficial to police departments as far as training officers what to do and what not to do in certain situations. Showing members of the community that police officers are more than willing to restore the broken trust is a good step to good policing as this will allow them to effectively do their jobs. Police officers are to be highly commended for the things that they do and they do a lot. For examples, they deal with murderers, child predators, they go on high speed chases, and they get involved in shoot outs, so everyday is a constant fight for survival to make it to the next day because they do the things that some of us probably will never do simply because of the dangers that are involved, and it is because of the dangers that are involved in being a police officer, that officers should wear body cameras. Police officers are not feared and neither are they respected anymore and a lot of things as far as policing are responsible for playing a role in that. Police officers are now endangered species, because the people have spoken and they have had enough of police officers committing crimes and getting away with them. People have come to the conclusion that if the justice system and police departments are not willing to do anything to keep these officers in control, then they will. Given these points, police departments should be in a position where they are more than willing to provide their officers with the right resources upon entering into the line of duty, by making sure that one of their resources is a body camera. People do a lot of crazy things, not only to themselves and to others, but to police officers, and to the men and women who have committed their lives to serving others and if its comes down to it, giving their life, should be protected with body cameras that should be on from the moment they clock into work.

Being a police officers is not to be taken lightly because at the end of the day it’s a very serious and dangerous job, and one judgement call could shine a light on thousands of problems within a police department. With the pressure that most police departments are falling under due to rise in police brutality, it’s easy for many people who are against policing and police officers to take advantage of the situation and use it to their benefit. For example, a citizen can get pulled over for running a stop sign, and the police asks for license, registration, and proof of insurance and run everything and everything comes back clear and they write them a ticket and go on about their day, but they next they get to work and a complaint has been filed stating “the officers used excessive force”. The body camera video will show that the officer did not use excessive force and did everything he/she was supposed to do regarding a routine traffic stop. According to Florida Bar Journal, “law enforcement officers are subject to more complaints than other public safety-first responders.” Given the recent rise in police brutality, if an officer uses excessive force or get louds then outsiders automatically assume it’s police brutality and when the word gets off that there’s and bad police officers on the loose, the police departments make a judgement call to either fire the officer or place them on suspension because they have to go off words and action, and it seems like the next best thing, because they don’t want to become a tabloid when it’s not. One false story could ruin a police officer’s life, and they’ll end up facing unnecessary punishment as a result of it. Body cameras can help determine if a police officer was justified in their response, because once again the camera will show everything that may be left out either accidentally or purposefully.

Given the dangers in policing, officers are trained to know how to handle every situation where police officers are needed, but is that always the case? Most officers hide behind their badge and uniform and automatically think that what they’ve done is justified and it’s not. Distinguishing between right and wrong is something that is taught during childhood. Kids are taught it’s wrong to lie or be dishonest, it’s wrong to cheat, it’s wrong to hit others, it’s wrong to be disrespectful, etc. So why is it in adulthood that seems to fade away especially with some police officers? It’s honor and meaning behind being an officer of the law and wearing the blue uniform, and it’s not painting the picture to public that we as a country stand behind corrupted police officers and their actions. Enforcing that body cameras must be worn by all officers will also provide police departments a way to weed out those officers that simply don’t belong. According to Washington University Law Review, “numerous cities, states, and localities, have adopted police body camera programs to enhance police accountability in the wake of repeated instances of police misconduct, as well as recent report of deep-seated police problems”. The public has spoken against police brutality and they are looking for answers that police departments are taking necessary action to resolve police brutality. No police officers should be in a predicament where they have to explain their actions because sometimes when explaining their actions, they don’t get it all out, they forget something, or they add something, and it’s not just with police officers but with citizens, when a police body camera will show everything that was said and done on the day of the incident. Police officers are meant to be trusted and respected, not distrusted and disrespected. It’s the absolute wrong thing to accept an officer’s action who has shown clear sign of police misconduct because police departments are painting the picture to others officers that behaving in a such a way is acceptable. Police departments want to believe that every man and woman that they are training and putting on the streets to serve will uphold the meaning behind the uniform, but many are showing signs of deceit, which goes unnoticed. Times are changing, people are changing, and technology is moving people every day into a new direction, and you can stand back, watch the change, and get left behind, or you can accept the change and move along with it.

Works Cited

  1. ‘Considering police body cameras.’ Harvard Law Review, Apr. 2015, p. 1794+. Gale Academic Onefile, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A412800618/AONE?u=bir5596&sid=AONE&xid=f6ea7cd0. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
  2. Lippman, Gary E. ‘Will Body Cameras Improve Policing in Florida?’ Florida Bar Journal, July-Aug. 2017, p. 59+. Gale Academic OneFile Select, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A549336954/EAIM?u=bir5596&sid=EAIM&xid=e485f7c0. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
  3. “Officer Staged Shooting, Distress Call.” CBS News, 02 August 2019. CBS Interactive Inc.
  4. Sacharoff, Laurent, and Sarah Lustbader. ‘WHO SHOULD OWN POLICE BODY CAMERA VIDEOS?’ Washington University Law Review, vol. 95, no. 2, 2017, p. 269+. Gale Academic OneFile Select, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A515383346/EAIM?u=bir5596&sid=EAIM&xid=ab965cb8. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
  5. ‘Police Body Cameras: Top 3 Pros and Cons.’ ProCon Headlines, edited by ProCon.org, 1st edition, 2018. Credo Reference, http://lawsonstate.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/proconph/police_body_cameras_top_3_pros_and_cons/0?institutionId=4837. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
  6. ‘Police Body Cameras.’ Issues & Controversies: Overviews and Pro/Con Arguments, edited by Facts On File, 1st edition, 2019. Credo Reference, http://lawsonstate.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/fofissues/police_body_cameras/0?institutionId=4837. Accessed 26 Oct. 2019.
  7. Jesse Williams. “Humanitarian Award.” BET Awards. 26 June 2016, Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, CA.

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