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Effectiveness Of Police Body Cameras Can Vary

August 28, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy No Comments
The St. Louis Police “Incident Command Center” truck in 2012

St. Louis City & County are both looking to get police body cameras. This is a good thing, especially based on experience in other cities.

A quick online search reveals how body camera footage has been helpful, here are a few:

The above makes a very convincing argument in favor of cameras. Looking to Chicago, however, tells me effectiveness is closely related to how they’re implemented within each department.

Since the program’s inception, the department has issued 8,200 body cameras to officers through city funding and grants. The U.S. Department of Justice has also awarded the department more than $2 million in grants to assist with the implementation of the program. The goal is to improve transparency, accountability, and safety between police and the public.

But a compliance evaluation by the City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found watch operations lieutenants failed to complete required reviews of body camera footage, and the department does not have a standardized process to do so. [CBS Chicago]

We know off cameras aren’t effective.  An overwhelming majority of us believe these cameras are worth the cost — from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Police body cameras are a huge waste of money.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Agree: 2 [5.41%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [2.7%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [5.41%]
  • Disagree: 8 [21.62%]
  • Strongly disagree: 21 [56.76%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.7%]

I plan to keep looking into pitfalls other regions have encountered as they added body cameras. I’m also concerned about costs — annual leasing versus buying upfront. How much money could we save over the next couple of decades depending upon how we purchase? The other question I have is how long before we’d need to upgrade to new technology?

— Steve Patterson

 

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