There’s no doubt that we live in uneasy times today. These are times when police and other folks who work in law enforcement put their lives on the line to protect everyday citizens and more and more they seem to be the subject of scrutiny. Fairly or unfairly, many national incidents have made an impression in the minds of many Americans, some of whom have become very distrusting of the way law enforcement officials operate.
When it comes to protecting police officers, those in law enforcement and helping them stay accountable, body cameras quickly come to mind. It’s true that some law enforcement officials may be wary of body cameras and using them, but there are actually many advantages of police departments using body cameras regularly:
- Accountability: One of the biggest advantages of body cameras and justifying body camera costs for police departments is that police officers are held accountable when they wear them. Body cameras may be considered something of a nuisance, but in reality they help keep officers in check and give them a chance to do some self-evaluation where ultimately they can do their job more effectively and use the body camera as a useful tool.
- Unobtrusive: It’s no secret that law enforcement officials have a lot of equipment to work with on the job, especially the equipment that they wear on their person at all times. While some police officers may bristle at the thought of wearing a body camera, it can actually be very useful and essential.
Body cameras and body camera costs are a sign of the times. As of March 2015, it was estimated that roughly a third of police departments in the United States use body cameras. Instead of being a source of aggravation, they can actually help save law enforcement officials’ lives. A study by the Pew Research Center of about 8,000 officers found that more than 90% of them are becoming concerned about the dangers of their job.
Keeping that in mind makes it easier for police departments to justify body camera costs. As an added bonus, they are very small and very unobtrusive. They can be placed on different parts of the police officer’s body, don’t weigh much and really shouldn’t detract from an officer’s ability to do their job, even in the most stressful situations.
- A better picture: While some officers might see body cameras as a way for Big Brother to keep an eye on them, they can actually be very useful. What body cameras do is capture video footage which can be crucial in complex situations and for situations where officers might have to defend their actions. With body cam footage they can do that and really help eliminate a lot of reasonable doubt.
- Fewer complaints: There’s no doubt that law enforcement officials are living in some tumultuous times where is easy for everyday folks to be distrusting of law enforcement, register complaints against them and to videotape all their actions from the sidelines. Fortunately, body cameras can help reduce some of that criticism and the data backs that up. Recent data found that more than 90% of officers use body cameras are likely to receive fewer complaints from the public and 66% of officers and 93% of citizens support the use of body cameras to record interactions between everyday citizens and police officers.
What does all that mean? It means police departments can justify body camera costs and the use of body cameras to provide concrete evidence for what their officers do and how they spend their time. That way officers can spend more time unimportant tasks and less time worrying about how they might look in the public eye.
Ultimately the goal of law enforcement officials should be upholding the law in keeping everyday citizens safe. While body camera cost can be a little high depending on what sort of cameras police departments get, they help hold officers more accountable and make themselves more transparent to everyday citizens, thereby hopefully re-establishing trust in law enforcement.