Over the past year, communities have been struck by the deaths of unarmed men and women who have died while in police custody. The deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and Sandra Bland have led many to question the reliability of officers and the state in which cameras have become an everyday tool and means of verifying the truth.
The rate at which videos have been distributed and linked to the Internet is increasing every day as more people post about their every day lives or the dramatic events happening around them. Videos have shed light on the increasing popularity of how some officers are handling situations.
It has led to thoughts about police officers wearing body cameras. On Dec. 1, 2014, President Obama announced plans to spend $263 million on body cameras for police officers. Brown’s family has become a big supporter of this idea, even stating that they wanted all officers wearing body cameras. The question that arises now is what should citizens be doing to protect themselves? The answer came in the form of dashboard cameras.
This has recently become popular in Russia where people have been able to use the footage against corrupt officers. People in the United States are questioning if this is our next move as protests and anger against officers rises. However, an idea like this comes with its own issues.
If you install a camera, there are regulations as to how big it can be and where it can be placed. You run into problems outlying the fact that some people will not feel comfortable being on camera. Also, if an officer asks you to step out of the vehicle and then escorts you to the back of the vehicle, you are no longer capable of knowing if you are on camera since it’s likely that your camera is facing the front of your car. This footage is also inadmissible in court.
The pros in some ways out rule the issue. In many cases, dashboard cameras can become a means of evidence in car crashes. Also, you would be able to have an officer on camera if you are pulled over.
While these pros might seem alluring to some in the eyes of a driver, they don’t mean that much if the footage is inadmissible in court. Why have the footage if you can’t use it? Drivers need to understand the laws in the state you live in about having a dashboard camera and the privacy laws that follow.
In other words, these cameras might be great if you ever find yourself in a car accident and need to prove you had no fault, but compared to wearing a body camera that catches your every move, a dashboard camera means nothing. If the worry is so huge about police brutality or questionable actions by officers, then maybe we as people should invest in body cameras.