After Ferguson, Calls Mount for Police to Wear Body Cams
(From Yahoo) NEW YORK — What if Michael Brown’s last moments had been recorded?
The fatal police shooting of the unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, is prompting calls for more officers to wear so-called body cameras, simple, lapel-mounted gadgets that capture video footage of law enforcement’s interactions with the public. Proponents say the devices add a new level of accountability to police work.
“This is a technology that has a very real potential to serve as a check and balance on police power,” says Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.
The case supporters make is simple: Police officers and criminal suspects alike are less likely to misbehave if they know they’re being recorded. And there’s some evidence supporting it. In a recent Cambridge University study, the police department in Rialto, California — a city of about 100,000 — saw an 89 percent decline in the number of complaints against officers in a yearlong trial using the cameras.
Rialto isn’t unique. Across the U.S. and in England, Australia, Brazil, and elsewhere, a growing number of departments are implementing the cameras, in addition to — or instead of — the dashboard-mounted cameras that are already widely used in police cars. Some one in six U.S. police departments now use body cameras in some form, according to ACLU attorney Scott Greenwood.