Months of unrest, including the riots and looting in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision earlier this week not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, might have been avoided.
How, you ask? The use of personal police cameras is growing. These cameras are worn on the officer’s uniform and record what goes on during their shifts. Having a video record of what is said and done by officers and by others who interact with the officers can make a world of difference in determining fault in a violent incident, and also on a daily basis, even when there is no such incident.
In Rialto, California, near Los Angeles, these body cameras have been used by 70 of its uniformed officers and a study conducted after their introduction showed public complaints filed against officers plunged an incredible 88 percent compared with the previous 12 months. Moreover, officers’ use of force fell by a whopping 60 percent.
The use of these cameras can only serve to help police do their job more effectively. The video recording can be a strong factor in keeping the police from abusing their powers and in protecting those same law enforcement officials when they must defend themselves. Had Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson been wearing such a lapel camera, the events of that fateful day in August might have turned out differently. But almost certainly the events since that fateful August day, which have split the community and to an extent the entire country, would have been far different.
Knowledge is power. The truth shall set us free.
Townhall: Justice Vision by Paul Jacob
CNN: Protesters torch police car in another tense night in Ferguson
The Guardian: California police body cameras cut violence, complaints