The Legality of Police Body Cameras and Their Impact on Civil Rights
Many are questioning the legality of police workers wearing body cameras and the balance between responsibility and civil liberties.
Questions such as – 'Are they necessary?' or 'What specific guidelines should be implemented for their use?' keep popping up!
Remarks from South Caroline's Senator
South Caroline's Senator Tim Scott addressed that 'police body cams are meant to bridge the gap among communities and law enforcement, more so for communities of color.'
He further opined – 'the focus was to discover the root of all hurdles communities and their safeguarding police offices experience frequently.'
Vice-President of Stand Together Trust Echoes Senator's Opinions
Stand Together Trust's Vice-President mirrors Senator Tim's opinions, thus stating – 'it is one crucial part of a larger-scale solution, and one needs to remember the requirements of another form of reforms to heal those prevalent issues.'
Walking a Fine Line between Appropriateness and Violation of Citizen's Civil Rights
There have been an increasing number of American PD outfit police officers with body cams. However, the PD also understands that they are walking on a fine line between appropriateness and violation of citizens' civil rights and specific rules must be set to regulate police officers from viewing the camera footage.
'Uncontrolled or monitored footage access endangers the citizen's civil rights. It also dents confidence, trust of citizens in police officers, thus undermining objectives of accountability and transparency.' – opines the former head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
As per reports, 'Body cams often create an Illusion of reality'
Another report states – as police officers may not always remember precise details of an occurred event, watching the body cam may potentially alter their recollection of what actually happened.
Such body cams often create an Illusion of reality, which can amend what the police officer may note in his report. All of this creates confusion and difficulty for courts or investigators to determine whether the officer acted reasonably per what they perceived during the incident.
'The Camera is Looking at You & I, not the officer'- Says COOK
Leadership Conference spokesperson Sakria Cook opines – 'Increased adoption of body cameras is taking place without regulatory guidelines to protect civil liberties and rights of citizens.'
She continues – 'the camera is looking at you & I, not the police officer wearing it.'
Cook also stated that approximately 62-69 USPD have body camera programs implemented in their set-up. And the majority of the departments permit almost 80% of its officers to view incident footage anytime.
She recommends 'Clean reporting' that will restrict a police officers to writing their initial report first and then viewing the camera footage. They can write a second/supplementary report after viewing the footage.
She affirms that adopting the 'Clean Reporting' practice is in everyone's best interests to achieve justness, transparency, consistency, and responsibility.
However, Metropolitan PD, Washington commander Ralph Ennis reassures no such violation will occur that endangers the civil rights of the US citizens.
He explained – 'The department has implemented strict protocols on who can access and view the footage.'
Citizen Awareness is Crucial in Maintaining Body Cams Legality
While nothing's wrong with using body cams for citizen and community protection, prior citizen awareness is just.
Although concerning laws vary among state jurisdictions, officers must make it mandatory to inform the public beforehand.
Many different points of view on the use and allowance of body cams also exist.
Some believe it is the perfect medium to use as admissible proof in a court of law and safeguard the citizens. Others state recording citizens' actions without letting them know is a breach of trust and transparency.
Some arguments exist regarding body cameras violating the 4th Amendment of Constitutional rights.
Ex-Cop, Lance LoRusso, Presently an Attorney in Atlanta Representing Cops, Stated to the Association Press
The 'Clean Reporting' practice of writing the report without viewing the footage is infuriating. Officers must view the footage beforehand to write the incident report accurately.
There is no reason to lie or recollect facts when they can see what happened. It not only allows accurate reporting but productive use of time and effort.
Impact on Citizen's Civil Rights – Is It Positive or Negative?
Some experts believe body cameras can negatively and positively influence citizens' civil rights.
Body cameras raise vexing concerns about citizens' impunity to exercise their civil rights and liberties. There exists the possibility that the camera footage could be employed unjustly to harass citizens or wrongly prosecute them.
Moreover, body cameras can negatively influence those marginalized communities with low income or color differences. Such communities are often unreasonably affected by cops' unjust pestering, and using camera footage could be another way to strike fear among such community citizens and control their actions entirely.
On the flip side, police body cameras can also improve the efficacy of police officers when reporting and investigating incidents. It can serve invaluable in reducing criminal action and discrimination. It could provide usable evidence on misconduct and ensure justice is served appropriately.
Upturn expert Harlan Yu further stated - 'police body cameras must be employed as mediums for accountability, not a tool for surveillance.
Police body cams offer both promises and risks. However, leading Police departments are looking to address the civil rights concerns of citizens by reforming and broadening policing reforms whenever officers engage with citizens of the community wearing body cameras. Limitations have already been imposed on biometric technologies, facial recognition software, and access to camera footage.
Moreover, panelists have determined when officers should be allowed to view the footage. Per their verdict, the officer must present his initial report before seeing the footage, thus ensuring their first perception isn't tainted or altered by peripheral intrusions.
The panelists also stated that the office must show due diligence when wearing body cam amidst the public. They must inform the public about them being recorded to uphold community and citizen protection.
Such engagements will go a long way in improving relations with the community inhabitants and renewing their trust in the USA Police Department.
Additional Note –
If you have a lengthy assignment or paper to write on the topic coverage – you’ve come to the right place. Our experts can tackle all assignment requirements. So, feel free to share your task requirements immediately.