Setting aside the severe privacy implications of pervasive police body cameras the biggest issue is that the police remain in sole control of the devices and data. Even in cities that require police to wear body cameras I still urge people to record any and all police interactions they’re either a party to or come across. When individuals record the police the footage isn’t in the polices’ control so there are barriers that make it more difficult for them to use it to prosecute somebody. Footage recorded by individuals is also more resilient to the body camera memory hole:
Chicago Police Department officers stashed microphones in their squad car glove boxes. They pulled out batteries. Microphone antennas got busted or went missing. And sometimes, dashcam systems didn’t have any microphones at all, DNAinfo Chicago has learned.
Police officials last month blamed the absence of audio in 80 percent of dashcam videos on officer error and “intentional destruction.”
When the only footage of a police encounter comes from a police controlled device it’s a simple matter for the officer to disable it. The best way to counter such a threat is to record police interactions yourself.
Most people carry smartphones, which usually come equipped with a decent camera. You can use the builtin video recording app but there are better options in my opinion. A friend of mine who spends a lot of time recording the police uses and recommends Bambuser. The American Civil Liberties Union has region specific apps for recording the police. Both options are good because they upload the video to a remote server so a cop cannot destroy the footage by confiscating or destroying your recording device.
Police body cameras sound like a great idea on paper but as with most things in life if you want something done right you should do it yourself.