Following several high-profile police violence cases since 2010, there has been a debate over one of the proposed solutions — the use of body cameras.
By 2016, almost half of all police officers in the country were already wearing body cameras. As of 2023, 20 states require by law that officers wear them. If they are found without one, a proper reason must be provided.
The rise of body cameras may have originated out of public outcry over the conduct of officers, but these laws also seek to protect personnel from unwarranted allegations. Other benefits include increasing the quality of evidence against offenders and reducing agency liability.
So the question remains — do body cameras actually work in deterring violence?
Body Cameras Vs. Police Misconduct: The Research
A 2021 study offered some answers.
Conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab in collaboration with the Council on Criminal Justice’s Task Force on Policing, it suggested that while body cameras weren’t an all-encompassing solution, they did indeed help. It found that complaints against the police had fallen by 17% and that the use of force by officers had dropped by 10%.
However, a study from a few years prior in Washington, DC showed that there was no statistical impact on either violence or complaints from the public. This was also recorded by another study in 2020.
The Trouble With Body Cam Statistics
The studies may point out that body cameras aren’t an all-encompassing solution. But, at the same time, other factors influence these statistics.
For one, those in favor argue that there is no point in having officers wear body cameras until the public is given more control over the footage. In North Carolina, for instance, the law requires anyone who wants a copy of body-worn camera recordings to apply for court approval — a long and tedious process.
Another claim is that police officers have too much control over the footage. Officers have been accused of misusing their cameras- by turning them off, staging scenes, or editing footage to provide an incomplete picture.
Those who argue for body cameras say that the real impact will only be seen once lawmakers give the public greater control over footage and punish officers who manipulate tapes more harshly. Those against body cameras say that they are only being used to monitor people and keep tabs on what they are doing, rather than being used as a counter-violence solution to protect and defend. This has ultimately led to privacy concerns among civilians.
Two Body Camera Success Stories
At i2c Technologies, our simple goal is to help you protect your assets, whether that be people or property. At the root of it, body cameras are a convenient and effective way to get more visibility into situations where there normally isn’t any. And in fact, this added visibility and insight has proven valuable in several newsworthy events.
In 2017, a Baltimore officer was suspended after body camera footage caught him planting false evidence. Ironically, the footage was first used by officers to file drug charges against a civilian, who was jailed for four months.
What the officers didn’t realize was that their cameras had a feature that began recording video 30 seconds before sound. During those 30 seconds, the officer was seen planting the drugs on the man, who has now been exonerated and released.
In another case from 2017, body camera footage was used to exonerate an officer accused of assaulting a civilian.
In a video first posted on Facebook, the officer is seen standing over a man who was lying on the ground near his patrol car. The post accused the officer of using excessive force to make an arrest. However, the body camera footage later showed that the intoxicated civilian had fallen over and accidentally hit his head. The officer is instead seen attempting to break the man’s fall.
Clearly, body camera footage can be used to both protect and indict officers.
Where i2c Technologies Come In
At i2c Technologies, we have been developing and installing security cameras and innovative video surveillance solutions for municipalities, police departments and other government entities since 2005. Every camera system implementation in our nearly 20 years of business has given us valuable insight and experience that we carry through to the next project.
We only install world-class equipment that is approved for use in U.S. government and military facilities. As an approved Ohio state-term schedule vendor, we offer discounted pricing for Ohio state and local government entities (STS Contract #800475).
i2c Technologies has supplied hundreds of deployable surveillance cameras across the U.S. As the debate over body cameras endures, we continue to innovate and offer customized solutions to help watch over cities and those who protect them. Talk to us about your custom solution today!