Body-worn cameras improve citizen-police relations; are they practical for Valley College?
Byline: Agustin Angel Flores, Staff Writer
In the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown, the Ferguson Police Department adopted body-worn cameras to monitor the officers’ activities. This should be implemented in every police department.
Examining the facts, would the Brown’s death and the series of events that followed have been prevented if Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown, had been wearing a body camera on his uniform?
There have been different incidents that have included officer-involved shootings in many states across the nation, including California; the 1991 brutal beating of Rodney King, the 2009 Oscar Grant homicide, and last year’s fatal shooting of a dog in front of a crowd. Would these men and dog still be alive?
One of the few law enforcement departments that have adopted the use of body cameras is Rialto, Calif., a small, working-class city located in the San Bernardino foothills outside Los Angeles.
According to an article by The Guardian, “…Rialto’s randomized controlled study has seized attention because it offers scientific – and encouraging – findings: after cameras were introduced in February 2012, public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.”
As a result of the massive media coverage of the Ferguson events, the entire nation now knows that state and local police departments are upgrading new gadgets and military weapons that are only used in war. Armored personnel carriers were seen patrolling the St. Louis area with officers clad in Kevlar vests, helmets, and camouflage, armed with pistols, shotguns, automatic rifles, and tear gas.
“Every year, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice funnel billions’ worth of dollars and military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them amass arsenals of combat-ready weaponry…” Kara Dansky said in a CNN article.
With the federal funding law enforcement receives, purchasing body-worn cameras for each officer should be a high priority to ensure that officers are held accountable for excessive force or violent behavior. Given the results of the Rialto Police Department’s study, Valley College students should consider demanding the campus Sheriff’s Department to wear body cameras to monitor police conduct.