OPINION: Body Cameras Lead to More Justice for All


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Izaak Perez, OwlFeed Opinion Columnist 

Body cams are useful to the public and the police for providing evidence. About half of the police departments in the U.S. issue body cameras to their patrol officers. They provide the point of view of the officer to provide safety for the officer or safety for the victim, suspect, or bystander.

Safety on both sides of the equation when it comes to interactions between the public and the police are the number one priority for the police. 

According to The National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice,“Citizens often change their behavior toward officers when they are informed that the encounter is being recorded. This ‘civilizing effect’ may prevent certain situations from escalating to levels requiring the use of force and also improve interactions between officers and citizens.” 

The outcome of a conflict becoming calm is greatly increased when the people involved know they are being recorded. A simple thing like that will improve conversations and confrontations between police and the people, and hopefully will help change the way the media looks at police officers.

I got the opportunity to meet Deputy Beck, of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and got to interview him. Deputy Beck gave me two reasons why body cameras are really useful. 

“The camera records the event as it happened and records everything within its scope without prejudice, [therefore] this helps keep the history of the event for later review,” Beck said.

Deputy Beck told me why he thinks cameras help to give information to the public, and how the presence of the camera affects the situation. Deputy Beck said, “The camera helps the public and police officers be aware of what, when and how things are developing.” 

Deputy Beck went on to give a personal account of his experiences, saying “I have personally had events from very confrontational to calm simply by me informing the citizen [that] he was being recorded. This allowed him to calm himself and for both of us to act professional and deal with the event at hand.” 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

I know when I’m being recorded I focus on how I look, which is probably why the people calm down. The calmer people are, the smoother it will go. As long as there is a good officer involved….

Some may think that body cameras only help the police become free of charges but body cams also provide justice to the families of the victims and can bring justice in unjust cases. There are bad cops everywhere, but that doesn’t mean every cop is bad. That’s why body cams can bring the good or bad cops to light to expose the real truth. 

An incident happened in 2017 in Texas where an officer used unlawful force, shooting a 15-year-old named Jordan Edwards. Thankfully there was footage from that officer that gave justice. According to TIME Magazine, “The police department had video that showed what happened was inconsistent with the officer’s initial statement, thanks to the body-worn camera on the officer. Three days after Jordan was killed, the officer who shot him was fired and now faces murder charges.” 

Due to the body cam, justice was brought down upon the officer. Body cameras are made to provide the video footage of a conflict or event so the evidence isn’t what a person said, and to provide video evidence. There are many incidents where police officers are caught in the act of planting false evidence because of their corruption, but thanks to body cam videos, they are being caught.

Body cameras are an important asset to the police, the public, the media, and the courts to provide evidence and justice to those who need it.