Police body cameras may protect public, study suggests

Many police agencies are using body cameras on officers after accusations of misconduct. A study has suggested the effectiveness of this technology.

The prevalence of numerous incidents in the news lately has given rise to questions about police misconduct and racial profiling. In recent Gallup polls, states CBS News, 64 percent of African-Americans said they had little or no confidence in law enforcement. Some minorities in Kansas and elsewhere say they feel as if they receive different treatment than white people. Police have been accused of using more force and verbal abuse in their interactions, as well as tactics that may seem to profile minorities, such as random stops and searches on the street. Minority rights advocates say that some people have been unfairly charged with a crime or assaulted by law enforcement.

Results of study on police body cameras

To address these concerns, many police stations across the country have implemented the use of body cameras among their officers or expressed an interest in doing so. According to the Huffington Post, the police department in Orlando, Florida, recently concluded a year-long study during which 46 members of the force wore body cameras in the field, compared with 43 officers not wearing the equipment. Police officers at the end of the study noted the following:

• Complaints by civilians against officers who wore the cameras dropped by 65 percent.

• Use-of-force incidents among those wearing the equipment were reduced by 53 percent.

• Injuries sustained by civilians and officers were significantly reduced.

Altercations with law enforcement were de-escalated or more quickly resolved.

Police officers said the cameras assisted them with evidence collection, helped them fill out reports and accurately remember events. At the end of the study, two out of three said they would prefer to keep wearing the equipment, and most said they believed police agencies should implement body cameras for all officers on the front line.

Will officers in Kansas start wearing body cameras?

Many lawmakers in Kansas are currently hoping to get body cameras approved for use in the state's law enforcement agencies, but the process has presented challenges, states The Kansas City Star. For example, there are differences in opinion over the privacy rights of camera recordings. Should recorded data be made available for public viewing or protected for law enforcement use? There may also be difficulty in drafting specific laws regarding use of the technology, and whether the legislation should be under state or local jurisdictions. Additionally, some are worried that it is possible to tamper with police camera evidence and render it ineffective.

Laws regarding new equipment that can hold law enforcement accountable for their actions may take time to work through and implement. As always, those facing criminal charges should seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.