What Are Body Cameras and How Do They Affect Police Work?

A body camera is a wearable audio, video, or photographic recording system. Body cameras have a range of uses and designs, of which the best-known use is as a part of policing equipment. Research on the impact of body-worn cameras in law enforcement shows mixed evidence as to the impact of cameras on the use of force by law enforcement and communities’ trust in police.

Body-worn cameras are often designed to be worn in one of three locations: on the torso, on or built into a helmet, and on or built into glasses. Some feature live streaming capabilities, GPS positioning, automatic offload to cloud storage, while others are based on local storage.

Wearable cameras are used by some police in Canada and other law enforcement organizations in countries around the world. The cameras are intended to improve interactions between officers and the public. The first generation of ‘modern’ police body cameras was introduced around 2005 in the United Kingdom, followed from 2014 onwards by large-scale implementation in the United States, mainly to increase transparency and police accountability. Other countries have followed the trend. Early studies showed positive results, but replications have led to mixed findings. Outcomes have been shown to differ depending on the local context and the guidelines regulating activation of the bodycams. Research suggests no clear effects of body-worn cameras in terms of citizen behavior such as calls to police and resisting arrest. Subsequent analysis of the research affirms these mixed findings and draws attention to how the design of many evaluations fails to account for local context or citizen perspectives.

The discussion of police officer wearing body cameras has been a debate for years as many police officers started wearing body cameras around 2014. Not everyone agrees with the use of body cameras but they become beneficial in the case of collecting valuable information related to a crime being committed. At the same time, the privacy of citizens can be compromised by body cameras potentially exposing them to unwanted publicity. The accountability of police is increased as they use body cameras to ensure the protection of the public against police misconduct. A further discussion of police body cameras occurs because the improvements need to be done within the law enforcement system that requires police behavior to change. After that, new technologies can be implemented to help increase the accountability of police.

Noah Neaman is a criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver. Call Noah at 778-881-1785 for a free consultation if you or a loved one is in custody.


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