Could Body Cams Reduce Police Tensions? Page 2


"The same technology that lets us do these things can also be abused," said Dan Gillmor, who teaches digital media literacy at Arizona State University. "I think we all deserve a zone of privacy in our normal lives, and these devices we carry around are just dandy as surveillance on us. But there's a growing belief that for people who have life and death power over others, it's quite proper for them to have ongoing recordings of their interactions with the public."

The ideal scenario, White said, would be for police departments to garner support from the ground up: involve officers, unions, and the community in decision-making, and address privacy concerns and resources up front, he suggests.

With the recent controversy still simmering in Ferguson, Missouri, Trace examines the use of lethal force by police officers.

Of course, it's not only police officers who can record a crime. In fact, most police chiefs advise officers to assume that everything they're doing is being recorded.

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"It's a sad comment on the state of law enforcement, but I now encourage people who see the police doing something that seems out of the ordinary to document it with pictures or video and save it (if not post it online)," wrote Dan Gillmor,in The Guardian.

But even those who espouse citizen involvement, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, are rooting for police cameras.

"The use of cameras to document the abuse of power is an important development," Gillmor said. "But the ideal thing would've been for the police themselves to be wearing cameras."

The public seems to agree:  Two online citizen petitions calling for police to wear cameras have garnered over 150,000 signatures.

And despite his inconclusive research, White predicts that police body cameras may follow the same trajectory as Tasers, which became common in police departments within a span of a decade.

"This technology has the potential to expand that quickly if all the concerns are addressed," he said.

The price of the cameras have dropped substantially in the last 18 months, White said, and last week, Taser stock prices increased 10 percent, which most attribute to demand for its body cameras.

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