Can police body cameras contribute to fewer altercations?

Many authorities claim that using body cameras has positive effects for police and civilians. Some officers in Maryland have begun testing the equipment.

The excessive use of force has been a prevalent topic among human rights advocates in recent years. Within the past few weeks alone, there have been many instances of alleged police brutality against civilians, including what seem to be unnecessary shootings or instances of false confinement. This, in turn, has led to an increase of distrust in law enforcement for residents of Maryland and elsewhere, as well as violent acts against police officers and public calls for the system to change.

According to polls, many people of color in recent years have felt little trust in law enforcement, states CBS News. Minorities claim to frequently be stopped and searched for no reason on the streets - a tactic known as the "stop-and-frisk" - and some have said they have experienced more verbal abuse and excessive force against them than against Caucasians. While racial profiling is a complaint among many minorities, others attest that law enforcement might engage in excessive force against any race for those suspected or charged with a crime.

Body cameras may offer a solution

Numerous studies have suggested that it could be a positive step for law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, according to Newsweek. These cameras are small pieces of equipment that attach to an officer's uniform and film his or her interactions with the public. After trials in several areas, there was reportedly a 50 percent drop in use-of-force incidents among the police officers who wore the cameras. Additionally, people tended to complain less about the officers who wore the cameras, and it was said there were fewer injuries to both officers and civilians when body cameras were being used. Police officers also reported the following potential benefits to using the camera equipment:

  • Improvement in the collection of evidence
  • Positive changes in the behavior of citizens
  • Faster de-escalation of conflict and confrontation
  • Assistance in more accurately filling out reports and recollecting incidents

Why are body cameras apparently so beneficial? When officers know a camera is recording their every move, they may be more careful as to how they treat those they come into contact with. Also, civilians who are aware they are being filmed may be less likely to do anything that might incriminate them, which could potentially lower the risk for theft, violent crimes and other unlawful activity.

Several pilot programs for police body cameras have already been put into action in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reported in June that some officers in Baltimore County will be the latest to start phasing in body camera equipment. The potential benefits and other impacts of the equipment in this precinct are yet to be seen, but law enforcement officials are hopeful that it may make a positive difference.

Whether or not you were arrested by an officer wearing a body camera, you may feel as if you were unfairly targeted or harshly treated. You may need to contact an experienced defense attorney in Glen Burnie to protect your rights.