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Police Body Cameras: Should They Wear Them?

Updated on April 5, 2016

Police Cameras

While there is no doubt that law enforcement should be required to wear body cameras, how can we be sure that the camera will show everything, unaltered? There has been much research done when it comes to the use of the body cameras for the police and while not everyone is in agreeance with the police being required to wear such cameras others find them to be very useful. The American public has rallied together to ask for the body cameras to be made mandatory for all police officers as a way to provide evidence in controversial cases. Others have argued that the cameras should also be required as a way to provide evidence of proper police conduct when an officer's actions are being questioned. Critics, however, have raised concerns that the body cameras violate the privacy laws and statutes. They argue whether the body cameras are a solution for officers in the United States, or just risk a violation to the privacy of American citizens, or otherwise impact the relationship between law enforcement and the community. I hope to provide evidence to both sides of the case to the best of my abilities.

In all of my research last week, I found plenty of research to support my revised thesis statement. I also found a couple to support my counterargument. One of my claims in support of my thesis talks about the rash of police killings and how if the officer had a body camera then it would be easier to monitor things that are going on within their city and keep things a little more under control. The second is a study that was run by the Arizona police department talks about how the use of police body cameras has been growing interest and become more of a rising interest with all the reports of police brutality.

The claims I have to support my counter argument that the body cameras don’t show the whole story is an article questioning the validity of the cameras and their videos. Also, my husband being a retired cop himself has granted me a personal interview which has been approved by the instructor. No matter what people say you will not convince everyone that the body cameras are really necessary. Some actually believe that it is a necessity that the law enforcement agencies invest in the body cameras and make their officers wear them. Mandating that the police wear body-worn camera can help improve relations between them and their citizens. Not everyone believes that statement, however, because in a direct quote was given by my husband Randy Watts “Not all cops believe in the body-worn cameras.” These quotes fit my topic statement because honestly not everyone believes in these body cameras or in what they can or cannot do. Some even believe that it’s possible that they do not show the whole story, but instead only parts of it. Throughout the next few weeks, I will be working really hard to try to show both sides of the story in as equal parts as possible. I will try to show both a good argument and counter argument to the best of my ability. Do you believe that the police should wear body cameras?

They say that cops should be required to wear body cameras because it will be a sure-fire way to cut down on all the brutality shown by cops to the minorities as was pointed out by someone to me today. I do not know if the cops are the problem or if the criminals are, but the supporting evidence I found to back up the statement that all law enforcement should be required to wear them goes as follows. In the article, the author writes about how a civilian videotaped with his cellphone a cop in South Carolina shot at a supposed innocent man eight times and killed him for nothing. Now what you have to ask yourself has what provoked the officer to shoot in the first place.

In the second sentence of the article, it states as tensions between the police and the citizens have risen the uprising has prompted the community to take things into their own hands and begin record police with whatever means necessary. In the fifth paragraph, the article mentions a bill in Connecticut and Colorado that would allow individuals to seek damages if law enforcement interfered with their ability to make a recording.

The second article I chose analyzes the potential and limitations of body cameras for police. Mandating that police wear the body cameras may improve relations between cops and citizens. They would most definitely make it a lot easier to hold accountable the person who is at fault in any event when an officer with a camera has been present.

Due to research conducted at the Arizona Police Department interest in the use of body-worn cameras by the officers has become a rapidly rising concern among law enforcement agencies nationwide. It has become even more of a rising concern ever since the reports of police brutally began to grow rapidly over the past few years. Many people which include police officers, politicians, public support groups and even everyday ordinary people support the use of this technology. They promote it because of the supposed transparency and public trust to promote accountability and improve officer safety.

This article basically questions whether or not the camera is even accurate. That in itself brings us to my thesis statement which is the argument that I stated in my discussion two post. The argument I hope to make is that the body camera although necessary does not show everything that does or does not happen. I choose to make this kind of argument because I have a first-hand account of the body cameras were not always accurate and did not always show everything that happened. This thesis statement fits in with this article almost perfectly.

In my research, I have also found that another way that the body cameras can be useful is in the forensic field. They can be of help in videotaping a crime scene and making sure that all the evidence is recorded and photographed as necessary. Body cameras would be huge necessities and make a huge impact in the forensic world. They would help to document a crime scene more accurately and make sure the evidence was more easily identifiable. It would definitely cut out a lot of the middle man when it comes to the evidence handling and all.

Lastly, in the interview, I conducted with my husband Randy Watts I learned that although the body cameras are not always a sure thing because it is not guaranteed that the cops will always remember to turn them on or honestly if they will even want them on. Some cops may even refuse to wear them all together. I know that some wives or husbands may feel safer knowing that their husbands or wives are going to work wearing such cameras on their persons each day, but the thing is that each day is unknown. No one knows what is going to happen or what each new day will bring with it.

Life within itself is an uncertainty. So, although the body cameras may be the best idea for the officers, how can you possibly be sure that they will always do what they are meant to do? Each officer work day is different. Some have easy days and some have extremely hard days. It is possible that the officer could go to work and have an easy day and the body camera be a huge success and do its job perfectly. It is also a possibility that the officer will go to work one day and have an extremely hard day and have to fight with a criminal and his or her body camera could or could not end up destroyed in the fight and that is in turn where my thesis comes into play and you have to ask to have to ask yourself, just how do you know that the body cameras will always be able to do what they are supposed to do? The answer is no one knows and no one can know whether or not they will or will not work the way they are supposed to work. Nobody knows what each new day will bring. But I do believe that the body cameras would be for the best and that our officers and public safety officials would benefit greatly from them.

Body Cameras

Do you think the police should be required to wear the body-camera?

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