The news across the nation has brought startling images into our homes.
Almost everyone I know was shocked last month by the video showing a South Carolina police officer shooting to death an unarmed man. If a citizen had not been nearby with a cellphone, who knows whether we’d ever have learned the truth about what happened.
Such horrific events have caused many to ask whether shoulder-worn police cameras should be standard issue in police departments across the country.
Is this the next step in law enforcement?
I believe the time has come to at least experiment with the use of cameras in the Police Department. I hope to persuade the rest of the City Commission to include a pilot project in next year’s budget.
Police body cameras create transparency in law enforcement by documenting the interactions between officers and civilians. They can assist in the collection of evidence and witness statements as well as address any concerns about misconduct, use of force or bias.
This simple device not only protects citizens from that type of renegade police conduct, but it also offers protection to the police officers from disingenuous accusations intended to demean the men and women who proudly wear our uniform.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that out of the 18,000 police departments in this country, about a third already employ camera devices on their uniformed police. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel wants to equip his deputies with cameras, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs and Lauderhill are all moving this direction.
A camera system does come at a cost, and there are those who may say there may be rights to privacy or inconsistent results from their use that might undermine their effectiveness. However, President Obama has announced his administration will provide $20 million to help police departments cover the cost. The rest will take time and training.
I truly believe this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it. It should be added to the goals that the commission recently set.
City Commissioner, District 2