Police Body Cameras
Paragraph 1 (introduction) Topic sentence: with the advancement in technology, body cameras are the new trend in the law enforcement sector. Summary: although cameras have been in use for some centuries, body cameras have not been popular until recently. Pilot programs continue to be initiated by security agencies to evaluate the appropriateness and importance of using body cameras. The programs are justified through an analysis of the expenses and costs for implementing such programs (Sutherland et al., 2017). Their efficiency in curbing criminal activities would also be something that is looked at. The aspect of facilitating court cases is also indispensable because some cases take longer time when there is no tangible evidence to produce. However, with several challenges emanating as a result of technological advances, issues of privacy and human right violations tend to arise. Thesis statement: This paper discusses the use of body-worn cameras by police.
Paragraph 2 Topic sentence: One of the greatest benefits of law enforcement is documenting and capturing data and evidence for use in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Evidence: body cameras capture and maintained an unbiased record of details compared to a human observer (Ready and Young, 2015). Unlike car cameras, body cameras provide a wealth of information because they capture incidences as they happen. Police officers can effectively use the tool because it is calm and not hurried (Ariel, 2016). When following a certain incident, it is possible to capture almost all details because the officer can point the camera to the direction that the incident is taking place. This is unlike car cameras that are permanently fixed on the windscreen and which would not be possible to record an incident taking place on the sideways and at the back of the car. There is also an advantage of body cameras in that criminals may not easily detect that they are being recorded when carrying out their criminal activities. Some would tend to conceal some activities or words they use when executing their crimes if they suspect that there is a camera recording them. Car cameras cannot record activities going on in areas such as inside buildings and other hidden places. However, body cameras can record all areas that the officers are able to access. This makes them more reliable than car cameras that are only restricted to areas that cars can only access. Concluding sentence: police officers incredibly use body cameras in preserving vital information.
Paragraph 3 Topic sentence: the use of body cameras by security agencies portrays transparency and accountability. Evidence: research shows that body cameras improve professionalism and behavior in office settings. Besides, the implementation and use of body cameras create awareness to the security agents on their general interactions with the public hence making it easier to determine when members of the public have violated the law and need to be apprehended (Jennings et al., 2015). There is an increase in cross-border activities that have resulted as a response to illegitimate market opportunities and as a means of reducing their susceptibility to law enforcement counter procedures. This has also led to an increase in global terrorism due to the easy gathering of intelligence and sharing of this information across various global networks. With the use of body cameras, the officers can easily record unsuspecting criminals on borders and other areas that are prone to terrorist activities. With the use of body cameras, it is possible to capture activities that the officer may not have seen with his eyes while on duty. The officer may be focused on looking at a different direction while the camera focuses on a different area. In such a case, the officer may find some important information when perusing through the footage later. Concluding sentence: body cameras capture a person’s real character hence can be very beneficial during prosecutions.
Paragraph 4 Topic sentence: body cameras reduce public complaints on incidences of excessive use of force by law enforcement officers. Evidence: research by the University of Cambridge shows that the use of body cameras by security agents in the country reduced complaint incidences by 60 % in 2013 (Jennings et al., 2015). Police body cameras capture the behavior of law enforcement officers and the public and can be used to present evidence during prosecution in cases a person complains of being mishandled by security officers (Ariel, 2016). This is a great move in that police impunity is reduced because they know that every action they take is recorded by the camera. In some instances, police officers have in the past been accused of unlawfully arresting suspects and manhandling them. There have also been some reported cases of police officers taking bribes from suspects in the past. However, since they know that the camera is recording everything they do, the retreat from collecting bribes. This shows that the use of cameras has reduced instances of impunity and improved officers’ accountability when interacting with the members of the community. The members of the community also develop some sense of trust with the officers because they are aware that everything the officers do is recorded. There is also improved security in areas that are patrolled by officers with body cameras. Criminals that operate in such areas may tend to relocate for fear of being captured by the cameras as they execute their crimes. Concluding sentence: Body cameras improve the conduct of both the citizens and the security officers in a country.
Paragraph 5 Topic sentence: Body cameras provide laudable evidence of incidences because they can capture a lot of information during occurrences. Evidence: The cameras can be used as video proof to determine who is wrong and who is right in a legal proceeding. Body cameras help in establishing the viability of information provided about incidences in a court of law. The case of American African middle-aged man, Michael Brown who was shot dead by a law enforcement agent, shows the need for using body cameras. The case of Eric Garner, who was shot dead by a law enforcement agent in Missouri shows that body cameras can be used to reinforce pieces of information collected through thorough investigations (Greene and Patterson, 2018). Instances of extrajudicial killings have been reported in the past with critics arguing that minority groups like African Americans are the ones that are targeted by some law enforcement agents. In case the suspect is perceived to be a threat to the lives of the officers or the community, they can be shot dead, something that can be ascertained by scrutinizing the body cameras used by the officers during such an operation. However, it is apparent that the footages cannot provide the required information to conclude a case unless they are complemented by some analysis from experts and specialists but their recordings play an indispensable role in providing evidence. Concluding sentence: body cameras serve as a reliable source of vital information
Paragraph 6 Topic sentence: One of the most controversial questions that law enforcement officers face when using police body cameras relates to discretion. Evidence: research by Ready and Young (2015) shows that witnesses or parties to a scene of crime prefer to remain anonymous to being recorded. Requiring police officers to record and capture every encounter with members of the public impacts negatively on the association between the police and society. Police officers are required to record calls and informal conversations with the public. In some incidences, this infringes on the individual rights of a country’s citizens (Sutherland et al., 2017). As much as technology has aided in the collection of information, there is a negative side to it that has made a significant contribution in financial crime implications, like in money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion. Technological innovation, have impacted in creating a wide range of choices for various crimes all the while enhancing anonymity and evasion of scrutiny by law enforcement agencies. Since the introduction of body cameras cases started popping up claiming that this technology is a violation of human rights as they invade the privacy of individuals in public. The arguments that people brought forward is that, since these cameras are being controlled and manned by the people assigned at the main places the footage are being collected, their use can be used to invade people’s privacy. Conversely, body cameras may not be most efficient because they can be stolen by criminals during a confrontation with the officers. In such a case, evidence that might have been used in a court of law would be lost. Managing these complexities will require fundamental changes in technological training and partnering between the government and the private sector. Concluding sentence: public or individual discretion needs to be guided by a set of parameters that show when police officers may use discretion.
Paragraph 7 Topic sentence: the emergence of technology has changed people’s perception of privacy. Evidence: the use of body cameras enables police officers to record incidences whose privacy may be controversial. The police departments may consider the incidence to be of public concern while the individual citizens may find them to be private. This is usually evident when conducting investigations and research (Ariel, 2016). There are concerns on how security cameras should be used and the maximum duration within which the captured information should be stored before termination (Greene and Patterson, 2018). Additionally, there are various new and emerging threats that face the future of on Law Enforcement Intelligence like the protection of data and records along with rigid accountability of the intelligence function. This may prove hard because there are primary concerns on the violations of human rights which mean that the integrity in quality and data security must be always ensured. The threat comes in where people who have no lawful right can easily access private data through various mechanisms like hacking. This is a major threat that is likely to compromise on the right to privacy while at the same time putting various entities in danger. Conversely, body cameras cannot be used in all places to capture every detail of a certain incidence. For instance, a crime taking place in a public toilet cannot be recorded using the body cameras because this would be considered to be a violation of the right to privacy of the people using the toilets. This makes them inefficient in such a situation. Concluding sentence: the use of police body cameras in investigations and research has the potential to infringe on the privacy rights of citizens of a country.
Paragraph 8 (conclusion) Topic statement: police body cameras have both positive and negative impacts on the lives and professional lives of police officers and citizens. Evidence: body cameras capture important occurrences that could act as evidence during court proceedings. The cameras are more accurate compared to human observers because they cannot be biased. The cameras have been used in providing critical evidence in cases of police brutality in many nations around the world. The main limitations of police body cameras are the fact that they infringe on people’s discretion and privacy rights. The expansion of human rights and the community’s awareness of their rights has been on the rise globally. This is directed to the elimination of various social injustices and assertion of individual rights. With these rights incorporated in the laws, it will be the duty of the law enforcement officers to be the guardians and apply them against offenders. This will require training and policing responsibilities to ensure individual rights are respected. Research findings reveal that witnesses to critical incidences prefer to have their identities remaining anonymous. Concluding sentence: for police officers to strengthen their relationship with the public, they will have to establish strategic measures to alleviate the ill effects of the use of body cameras.
Ariel, B. (2016). The puzzle of police body cams. IEEE Spectrum, 53(7), 32-37.
Greene, D., & Patterson, G. (2018). Can we trust computer with body-cam vidio? Police departments are being led to believe AI will help, but they should be wary. IEEE Spectrum, 55(12), 36-48.
Jennings, W. G., Lynch, M. D., & Fridell, L. A. (2015). Evaluating the impact of police officer body-worn cameras (BWCs) on response-to-resistance and serious external complaints: Evidence from the Orlando police department (OPD) experience utilizing a randomized controlled experiment. Journal of criminal justice, 43(6), 480-486.
Ready, J. T., & Young, J. T. (2015). The impact of on-officer video cameras on police-citizen contacts: Findings from a controlled experiment in Mesa, AZ. Journal of experimental criminology, 11(3), 445-458.
Sutherland, A., Ariel, B., Farrar, W., & De Anda, R. (2017). Post-experimental follow-ups— Fade-out versus persistence effects: The Rialto police body-worn camera experiment four years on. Journal of criminal justice, 53, 110-116.
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