The death of Michael Brown and Eric Garnet President Obama decide the time has come for body-worn cameras for state officers and federal officers as a promising tool for police accountability. Although, it would cause an serious financial costs, President Obama felt it was best for the police officers and the citizens of the United States. To provide more transparency during police encounters the federal and state lawmakers order for police to be outfitted with body-worn camera (BWC) as a solution due to killing of blacks by the police.
It was time for a discussion about crime, racism, unjust treatment and implicit bias. President Barack Obama via of the Department Of Justice allocated over $20 millions in funding for body-worn camera in 2015. Research had shown that BWC reduce citizen complaints and use of force. Research had suggests that policing reforms provide more visibility and transparency but do not always provide more accountability (Ray, R., Marsh, K., & Powelson, C., 2017).
According to the article, policy maker should consider the threat that body-worn camera would cause to ethical and privacy. Surveillance technology adoption by law enforcement often surpass in speed the law and regulation that ensures BWC are use appropriately. In the United States BWC policy is a method to increase transparency in police-community interactions and build legitimacy” (Adams, I. & Mastracci, S., 2017).
The policy makers fail to consider the long-term effect of society as new technologies are adopted often after a tragedy and major public events leading to deterioration of privacy right. BWCs have been adopted by police department across the United States and worldwide, without knowing the long-term impact of body-worn cameras are in pressing need for evaluation of their effectiveness and impact (Adams & Mastracci, 2017).
BWCs was a technological solution to significant political problems with the goal of reducing tension between government and citizens. An initial assumption of the impact of BWCs was an unequivocally positive but not true. The actual pact of BWCs are unclear and due to the growing understanding of the financial cost, a fuller accounting of the technology and its effects is all the more imperative.
The evidence of BWC effectiveness is mixed because some studies showed a decreased in use of force while in other it showed BWC to have no effect on use of force but may have increase assualt on police. In studies of BWCs comparison of dash-mounted cameras (“dash-cam”) as a reference is imperfect and incomplete because the dash-cams capture officer during a routine traffic stops and capture of interaction between officer and citizens (Adams & Mastracci, 2017).
While BWCs capture the objective viewpoint of the officer, through not necessarily the subjective viewpoint of the officer. The viewpoint captured by a BWC is assumed it is the “true” version of what was seen by police officer, but in fact it may not be “true.” The reason being the officer is in an stressful situation where he is subject to perceptual distortions that’s not captured by the cameras. Implementation of BWCs has increased research interest in the claim that BWCs increase trust in police departments by reducing police use of force in the United States. Theseclaims were predicted in 1979 by Foucault’s panoptic effects. Officers are aware they are being recorded therefore, they will avoid behavior, that would lead them to being sanctioned (Adams & Mastracci, 2017).
In the United States, “there is a popular solution for law enforcement officers are to recorded the actions of officers during their duties. In doing, it requires an increased use of body-worn cameras. In theory, the body-worn camera attached to the officer at the time of the incident would provide answers through the footage obtained during the incident. It would provide objective evidence of the incident and would allow an individual or group of individuals to view from the perspective of the officer who used force (Nielsen, 2016).
In doing it allows you to step in the shoes of the officer to determine if he use necessary force based on the circumstances. There are potential negative effects stemming from use of body-worn camera such as the potential for the cameras to tie hands of the officer by limiting his/her discretion and judgment in dangerous situation and ultimately putting the public at risk of ineffective policing (Nielsen, 2016).
Each side of argument may have missed what is important in this ever-advancing technology, the increased use of widespread video recording, which is intended to prevent the misconduct of police officers have created concern over the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides protection from unreasonable searches and seizures for citizens of the United State. Regardless of technology used of privacy is still applied where no physical trespass is involved. A common law trespass standard may applied if the recording takes places on the property of another with a warrant.”
These recording taken without warrant or probable cause will violate the Fourth Amendment when analyzed by the common law trespass standard or reasonable expectation of privacy test The idea is for the body cameras remain a tool for monitoring the actions of the police and not a tool for monitoring the public. Right now it appears that individual’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated in wearing body-worn cameras to observes them from a public vantage point. As of now, there is no clear answer for when or if ever these public recordings will affect the Fourth Amendment violation. The used of police body-worn camera will not be a clear answer until the issued of illegal search and seizure is litigated to public vantage point recording (Nielsen, 2016).
In criminal justice police body-worn cameras (BWCs) are an increasingly prominent the research with a more robust theoretical composition for the causal mechanisms that can explain the efficacy of BWCs. It is argued that the deterrent effect of BWCs is a function of discretion, whereby strong discretion is inversely linked to a weak deterrent effect that consequently leads to the use of force while weak discretion is inversely linked to a strong deterrent effort and less forceful police responses (Ariel, Sutherland, hanstock, Young & Sosinski, 2018).
It shows that the deterrence effect of BWCs range from ‘minimal deterrence’ to‘maximum deterrence’ depending on the officer’s discretion. At one extreme, police withdrawal is manifested from ‘over-deterrence’ and even ‘inertia’. With this said, more attention should be given to officers’ discretion while training on appropriate use of BWCs and technological fixes (Ariel, Sutherland, Hanstock, Young & Sosinski, 2018).
The most compelling perceived benefits of body-worn cameras (BWCs) involves the potential for reductions in citizen complaints and use of force. Early studies reported a significant reductions in both outcomes following BWC adoption. In several recent studies it has failed to document such effects. Spokena WA Police Department explores the question of using data from a randomized controlled trial (White, Guab, & Todak, 2018).
According to Spokena WA Police Department half of patrol officers was assigned BWCs in May 2015 while other half received their BWCs 6 months later November 2015. It explores the effects of BWCs on the use of force, complaint against officers, and officer injuries, in using three years of official department data pre, and post BWC deployment. The outcomes of interest are rare in Spokane, which limited both statistical power and the results from significance testing (White, Gaub, & Todamk, 2018).
The within-group trends are consistent with a positive effect, particularly for percent change. Follow BWC deployment, the percentage of officers with a complaint in each group declined by 50% and 78% (Control and Treatment respectively); the percentage of officers with a use of force declined notably (39%) for one group only. The reductions disappears after 6 months for the treatment group. There was no relationship between BWCs and officer injuries (White, Gaub, & Todak, 2018).
According to the article,“body-worn camera (BWC) are becoming increasingly popular. The Department of Justice awarded more than $40 millions in funding for BWCs in 2015 and 2016 to law enforcement agencies, and most cities have adopted the use of BWCs or plan to in the coming years.” There are several fundamental problem that BWCs raise the important of private concerns, there is no government national policy to use and local departments have only remedial policies. Recent studies called into question whether BWCs actually reduce the used force by police. BWC program have high initial and continuing costs (Zwart, 2018).
In privacy concerns police department should act prospectively in studying the need to implement a BWC program or the need to expand one. In doing this they should flush out guidelines for using BWCs before equipping more officers. “These policies should increase the accountability of police action while preserving the privacy of individuals and the public” (Zwart, 2018).
In conclusion, body-worn camera was brought about because of the death of blacks at the hand of the police. After the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garnet President Obama decided the time has come for body-worn cameras for state officers and federal officers as a promising tool for police accountability. This was a way to monitoring the actions of police and not the public. In wearing BWCs it would provide objective evidence of the incident and most importantly it would allow an individual or group of individuals to view the incident from the perspective of the office who used force. This allow them to determine if the officer’s use of force was reasonable based on circumstances.
- Adams, Ian and Mastracci, Sharon (2017). Visibility is a Trap: The Ethic of Police Body-Worn Cameras and Control. Administration Theory & Practice 39, 313-328 Public Administration Theory Network https://doi.10.2080/108418061
- Ariel, B., Sutherland, A., Hanstock, D., Young, J., & Sosinski, G. (2018). The Deterrence Spectrum: Explain Why Police Body-Worn Camera “Work” or “Backfire” in Aggressive Police Public Encounters. Policing: A Journal of Policy & Practice https://doi.org/10.1093/police/
- Nielsen, E. (2016) Fourth Amendment Implication of Police Worn Body Camera, St. Mary’s Law Journal, 48(1) 115-143 https://search.ebscohost.com
- Ray, Rashawn, Marsh, Kris, & Powelson, Connor (2017). Perception of Police Officer. Sociological Forum Vol. 32 No.32, https://doi.10.1111/soc.12359/
- White, M.D., Gaub, J. E, & Todak, N. (2018) Exploring the Potential for Body-Worn Cameras to Reduce Violence in Police-Citizen Encounter. Policing: A Journal of Policy & Practice 12(1) 66-76 https://doi.org/10.1093/police/
- Zwart, N. (2018). Slow Your Roll out of Body-Worn Cameras: Privacy Concerns and the Tension Between Transparency and Surveillance in Arizona Law Review 60(3) 783-814. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com