Does NYC Case Undercut Body Cameras?

Police body cameras can definitely be a force for good, but not Excalibur.

Now a New York City grand jury has decided not to indict a white policeman caught on film by a bystander putting an illegal chokehold on Eric Garner, who died. Some suggest this shows that police body cameras won’t work.

Two thoughts: (1) It matters that police officers know their actions and conversations are being recorded. Studies show that both the police and the people they come in contact with behave better when police wear cameras. In the NYC case, police didn’t necessarily know they were being filmed.

(2) Cameras won’t guarantee an indictment against an offending police officer, of course, nor should they, even when you and I might think the video evidence warrants it. Nor guarantee a policeman is cleared when we believe that’s the right decision. But it is irrefutable that the additional evidence gathered by a video and audio recording can be invaluable in any case. Regardless of whether or not a court or grand jury decision is correct.

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