Body cameras are being touted as the saviors of modern policing. We told that police will behave themselves so long as they’re expected to wear body cameras. But body cameras have some major limitations. First of all they are facing away from the cop, not at him. The footage collected by the body cameras currently on the market remains in the control of the police department where it can be conveniently erased. There is also the issue that body cameras on cops are under the control of the cop, which means they can be readily disabled:
OAKLAND, Calif.—Over the last two years, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) has disciplined police officers on 24 occasions for disabling or failing to activate body-worn cameras, newly released public records show. The City of Oakland did not provide any records prior to 2013, and the OPD did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
The records show that on November 8, 2013 one officer was terminated after failing to activate his camera. Less than two weeks later, another resigned for improperly removing the camera from his or her uniform. However, most officers received minor discipline in comparison.
Not surprisingly accountability in Oakland is pretty damn low. Of the cops that did disable their body camera few suffered any meaningful consequences. It’s almost like they killed a family pet after kicking in the door of the wrong house during a drug raid!
The root of the problems facing modern policing is the lack of accountability. When cops are getting away with murdering people who sold some tax-free cigarettes then getting away with disabling body cameras or tampering with footage is a walk in the park. At this point the only solution is to tear down the entire institution and create a replacement based on the lessons we’ve learned.