Lately, it seems there has been a lot of controversy and debate on appropriate actions of police officers. People are worried about police officers having too much authority, and police officers are worried about their own safety. At times, it does not seem like there is a great solution for either side. However, police dash cams and recording systems may be the best solution that is currently available. It provides benefits to all residents and to the officers themselves.
Safety for police officers
The police dash cams record everything that occurs from the initial stop to the arrest, if there is one. If the officer feels that their safety is threatened and they decide that it is necessary to use police force, the camera can back them up. They do not have to worry about repercussions for attempting to protect themselves. Two things will happen as a result. Police officers will feel safer, and the residents of the city will report false use of police authority less often. Studies have already shown positive results.
According to a 2015 report by the Police Department for the City Council?s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, complaints against the San Diego police fell 40.5%, the use of personal force by officers feel 46.5%, and the use of pepper spray fell by 30.5% after the San Diego police department starting using body cameras. Both police officers and residents of the city felt safer.
Safety for residents
When a police officer knows that every one of their actions is being recorded, they are more likely to consider their actions closer. This causes them to fully evaluate situations before acting. This increase in evaluation can save a resident who is not actually providing any threat to the officer. Residents also feel safer because they know that any wrongdoing by the police officer will be recorded with the police dash cam and that they will be backed up in court.
Save the agency and city money
Some city police forces may be hesitant to equip police dash cams and police body camera features on every officer because of price, but these cameras can actually save both the agency and the city money. A 2012 survey conducted in a partnership between PoliceOne and TASER International among 785 federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals found that more than 85% of respondents said body worn cameras reduce false claims of police misconduct, and reduce the likelihood of litigation against the agency. A long court battle against an officer can get very expensive.
Use for legal evidence
The legal system is very complex in many ways. For example, an officer simply stating they identified an illegal item during a routine traffic stop is not likely to hold up in court. Even illegally filming or photographing an illegal object can be thrown out in court. A dash cam for police officers, however, can be used as legal evidence. Because many routine traffic stops turn out to involve other illegal activities, this can be helpful in winning cases against those who are guilty. In car police video systems can also capture things like license plate numbers, people?s identifying characteristics, and actions done during an arrest.
There has been a lot of conversation around police officers and their rights. Currently, a large percentage of police agencies do not use dash cams or body cameras. A 2013 survey by the Police Executive Research Forum found that about 75% of polled police departments reported that they did not use body worn cameras. Studies show that equipping police car dashes and officer?s bodies with these cameras can increase safety for everyone. Officers worry less about valid forceful arrests and residents believe they are more fairly treated. Body and dash cameras can also save the police agency money over time, with fewer litigations.