Police Officers Begin Wearing Cameras On Duty

Every time I find myself on the Internet, I somehow see a video of a cop abusing a civilian or a civilian being disrespectful to a cop.  YouTube and World Star Hip Hop have become the Mecca of police videos.  However, every video cannot be taken at face value because the bystander often starts recording after the incident has already begun. 

In an attempt to temper the amount of complaints received by civilians about the police as well as sort out suits and allegations, some police departments have begun to wear a camera on their glasses.  The standard has already been implemented in Rialto, California, where civilian complaints dropped by a staggering 88% after the first 12 months of using the cameras.  Additionally, policemen used force 61% less than before the cameras were in use.  The aim of the cameras is to protect the officers from false claims and complaints, while also protecting the civilian from police misconduct. 


A Realto Policeman wears a shoulder camera.


These cameras retain the latest 30 seconds of video before turning on, so it will save the 30 seconds leading up to the event that lead the officer to turn on their camera.  This is called the pre-event buffer, and it is significant in that it would catch what the YouTube videos do not.  Often times when people claim to have been abused by police in videos online, leaving out any evidence of their offenses leading up to the video.  As is the case with most technology, the use of these cameras is a double-edged sword.  The intent and, so far, the result is to reduce the amount incidents between civilians and policemen, but it also brings privacy issues into question. 

Personally, as a student living off-campus, I’m fully supportive of the agenda to employ these cameras in law enforcement agencies all over the country to ensure that the rights of the citizen are not violated and that policemen are performing their jobs to the highest of standards.  It is a step in the right direction towards nullifying officer-civilian apprehension, eventually creating a more efficient system of law enforcement.



9 thoughts on “Police Officers Begin Wearing Cameras On Duty

  1. This reminds me of a video that popped up on the internet a couple months ago. Where a male was, legally, carrying around a gun in public (I forget where). A police officer approach him to ask him questions, not aggressively. The man was furious saying he had a legal right to be holding the gun in the street and began harassing the police officer telling him he had no idea what he was talking about. When videos like these surface assumption are created. What you don’t see, perhaps, is the people on the street concerned about the man walking around openly carrying a riffle. With all the recent spree shootings, it is completely reasonable for a police officer to “protect the citizens” by simply asking a couple questions.

    This being said, I think this technology could really help improve some of the things that go on between police officers and civilians that are often misconstrued. The 30 seconds prior could help in instances such as the one above. It will remind officers as well as civilians that they must behave in the proper manner that their position entails. In my town at home, I have witnessed police officers act in inappropriate manners when unprovoked and do believe that this technology would improve the standards of local law enforcement. Great post!

  2. The double-edged sword definitely applies to police officers wearing cameras on duty. On one hand, the technology can be seen as an improvement, truly documenting scenarios between officer and ordinary citizen. This, as stated above, can protect the officer from charges brought upon them regarding questionable “brutal police force” and the citizen ensuring the officer carries out his or her duties in a legal and proper manner. However, you mentioned the camera records thirty seconds before a police officer decides to turn it on. This means an officer might catch a glimpse of an activity and can decide to continue recording to ensure he or she documented the activity. It is a scary thought for ordinary citizens to know that they do not always have absolute privacy and that someone, especially tied to the police force, is being watched. Major cities like New York City have started installing cameras at intersections, flashing when somebody runs a red light, and sending a traffic violation to the driver in the mail. I definitely see a potential problem arriving to the Supreme Court pertaining to the 4th Amendment and privacy rights due to police camera use as a part of their glasses. Great post!

  3. Interesting topic to blog about. It’s so interesting just how many aspects of our life technology can influence. I can’t even imagine what society will look like in 20 years will the exponential growth of technology. I definitely agree with the benefits of police office wearing cameras. I love the idea that both the citizens and officers are held accountable for their actions and it is hard to deny that. On the other hand the privacy issue is definitely a concern. I hate how everything is recorded and document these days. I feel like you can’t get away with anything, not in the criminal sense but even making small mistakes without the whole world knowing. So I guess I don’t know where I stand in my opinion on this issue. I think that the positives might outweigh the negatives but I have to dwell on it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I agree with ianadler (see above) that this affects privacy of people and limiting some of the things average citizens might be able to get away with. However, in a public setting, I don’t see any privacy violations. Yes this technology affects both citizens and officers. One of the most overlooked effects that wasn’t mentioned in the blog or previous comments is the free-pass. With a camera, no longer will cops be able to give away as many warnings without documentation or fines. This makes genuinely nice cops feel bad about their job and ruins the day of the average citizen.

  5. I think this is a fantastic idea to protect both cops and civilians from abuse and/or false testimonies. However, I think that the cameras on the sunglasses is not the best option because the sunglasses can’t be used all the time, especially during bad weather and in the evening, so this technology is not perfect. Perhaps if the camera were on another part of the uniform it would be more effective and realistic.

  6. Very interesting topic! I see the possible benefits of this specific utilization of technology, yet I also see the downfalls of it as well. I believe that it will make things easier for both the police officer and citizen to document exactly what happened. It will allow for much more certainty of the events that occur involving interactions between the two groups. With the knowledge of the use of this technology, it also may lead the citizens and police officers to act more properly when interacting with the other knowing that everything they are doing is being recorded. This use of technology can be a double-edged sword though. People can definitely fight that it is an intrusion of privacy, causing the use to be a large debate.

  7. Good post. I understand why people will think this is a big invasion of privacy, but I believe the pros of this technology far outweigh the cons. First of all, when you are out in public, you don’t have very high expectations of privacy and this technology will mostly come into effect in public interactions between a civilian and a police officer. Also, I think this will dramatically benefit both the civilians and police officers. Police officers can get carried away at times especially when they are dealing with someone who is trying to annoy them. With the officer knowing that everything is being recorded, he may refrain from using some force that he would use if he wasn’t being recorded. As stated, this will also help the police fight false law suits against them. This technology is already widely used in police work, such as the dashboard camera that automatically records when the car lights and sirens are on. This is just taking it another step further and I fully support it.

  8. Great post. I think such simple solution that brings a large impact is the perfect example of leveraging technology. Tech in government has been a tricky nut to crack, so seeing law enforcement adapt tech so well is encouraging. Law enforcement seems like a natural fit given how much technology they already use regularly.

  9. This topic is very interesting! It brings up the issue of the double-edged sword. Is it better for the consumer (individual) to maintain privacy and not be recorded or have the evidence of the recording to use in the case of police abuse. I am not sure yet what I think is worse. I do think it is wonderful, however, that the presence of these cameras have reduced police abuse.

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