argument top image

What are the pros and cons of police wearing body cameras? Show more Show less
Back to question

Police body cameras can eliminate issues of hearsay between parties when others are not present at the time of an incident. There are, however, concerns about their reliability, how these cameras are used, what impact they have on police officers' health, issues of privacy and how much they assist.

Police cameras are not beneficial Show more Show less

Police cameras are not beneficial as they are susceptible to impinging upon an individual's privacy, may negatively impact on policing, and where badly managed, or witheld, it does not serve the function it was created for.
< (2 of 2)

Police cameras negatively affect an officer's performance

A police officer's performance can be negatively affected with a body camera.

The Argument

Wearing body cameras may backfire on police officers. Where police have strong levels of discretion on when to use their cameras. This discretion may already carry the risk of being questioned by the department if officers fail to switch on their cameras as frequently as suggested. Where police have less discretion, this creates an environment where there are policies in place for the officer to switch their cameras on and off, which may lead to more time on camera. There are also variants between. Where a police officer may follow their policies and switch on the camera, this may seek to add an extra layer of detterence. This is where the officer may follow the rules and switch on their camera, but at the fear of how their superiors will view their actions, will either over-regiment to be seen as abiding or under police to not risk being seen as unfair. This does not allow the officer to use their skill and discretion to understand and adapt to the person they are faced with's circumstances. This may be subject to criticism of their policing irrespectively. Another impact is where there are instances, as studies have suggested, of civilian violence against police. If someone is aggressive towards the officer, they usually are in a position to apply more force. In the presence of a body camera, this may lead to the officer to re-think applying the force, and so may resist doing so, rendering them unable to complete their policing duties. [1]

Counter arguments

Research suggests that there is no remarkable change in the behaviour of police since wearing body cameras. Some studies suggest a decrease in complaints against the police, others show no improvements. Other studies suggest that although police initially did not like the idea of having body cameras due to fears of drawbacks in police activity, and the additional paperwork, as the programme continued police actually changed their opinion on body cameras. One of the reasons cited is due to the fact that the police are able to hold the public accountable for their behaviour, rather than the reverse. One study revealed that in 93% of the prosecutor's offices, body camera footage was actually used to prosecute civilians. Studies have also concluded that the fear of causing a reduction in police activity and causing low officer morale, also did not transpire. [2]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.rand.org/blog/2017/03/body-worn-cameras-can-police-have-too-much-discretion.html
  2. https://www.vox.com/2019/3/27/18282737/body-camera-police-effectiveness-study-george-mason
This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 20:02 UTC

Explore related arguments