EIJ Session: Police body cams

September 19, 2016 03:00

By Ciara Speller, RTDNA News
The number of law enforcement officers equipped with body cameras continues to grow, and it seems like every day in the news we are seeing stories that include footage of officers.

Some video is coming from security cameras, civilians with camera-equipped mobile phones or dashboard cameras, and in some states, body camera video is being made available to journalists and the public. In others, legislatures are passing bills to prevent body cam video from being released, setting up a conflict between privacy and the public's right to know about the actions of public officials.
Panelists Robert Becker, Carolyn Carlson and Sheryl Worsley led a breakout session at Excellence in Journalism 2016 titled, “Police Body Cam Video: Getting the Footage and Moving the Story Forward,” to discuss with audience members a few areas of concern regarding body cameras. The panel talked about current laws surrounding the release of body camera video, best practices for using accessible footage and the overall stability and dependability of these devices.
The panel shared real body camera footage during their presentation, showing the severity of force officers can sometimes use, and also discussed improvements that need to be made to the new technology.
“I am hoping technology will catch up and maybe become a piece of the uniform. Police departments need to use it, and it should not be optional,” said Worsley, who showed footage of a body cam falling off of an officer right before he fatally shot a man three times.
The panel concluded by emphasizing the importance of body cameras being used by all law enforcement agencies, to provide perspective and context to the growing national conversation about the actions of police on the front lines.