Who do Police Body Cams Benefit?
From the George Floyd to the Rayshard Brooks case, recent instances of police brutality have been documented with body cam and cell phone footage, prompting questions about just how frequently these situations occur. Essentially, since so many cases are popping up across the country, one wonders about how often excessive force occurs that we don’t know about or have no documentation to prove. Would mandatory police body cameras improve transparency and social responsibility among America’s police? Would there be other costs and/or benefits to mandating body cams for police?
Certainly, body cameras would translate into more transparency and accountability for police, building their legitimacy with the public when it is facing record challenges. Equally important, camera use would likely elevate the levels of civility demonstrated by both police and civilians during encounters.
When concerns about potential police misconduct occur, camera footage would be an additional line of evidence used to resolve complaints. Conversely, when used to support claims of illegal behavior by alleged assailants, it could corroborate police statements and evidence.
Finally, archived footage could be used to train officers as they strive to increase their effectiveness in the field.
The ACLU has listed concerns related to the use of body cams, and proposes that cameras should be activated when officers respond to calls or otherwise engage in interactions with the public, unless doing so would put the officer at risk. Privacy issues must be addressed, as well. They say that subjects should be informed that they are on camera. When entering a home, or otherwise interacting with a suspect, the camera should be turned off upon request. Similarly, when an individual seeks to make an anonymous crime report, cameras should be turned off.
Las Vegas Policy
Here in Las Vegas, officers are directed to use cameras to document all public contacts during pursuits, searches, vehicle stops, and other official duties. It is recommended that they inform people that they are being recorded, but they need not get consent in most cases. Cameras may be turned off to save the batteries in situations that are taking particularly long. Additionally, officers may use their discretion when a citizen requests privacy, especially when the situation requires a resident’s consent in order to enter. Certainly, the camera should not be activated in places such as dressing rooms, bathrooms, etc. When dealing with juveniles, it is particularly important to guard recordings from public view.
Advocating for You
If you are facing criminal charges, perhaps you believe that law enforcement officers overstepped their authority in their interactions with you. At Lobo Law, our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers are committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for our clients. Sometimes that means pursuing charges of police misconduct. Will body camera footage assist in our quest for justice? Schedule a confidential consultation today to discuss your situation.