The Case for Body-Mounted Cameras on Cops

By Julianne Hing Aug 19, 2014

Hawthorne, California, mayor Chris Brown responded to Michael Brown’s death and its aftermath by looking inward at the police officers in his own city–and proposing that they be required to wear video cameras. 

"I am simply not willing to gamble with a single life, or the wrongful accusation of upstanding officers," Brown wrote in a letter last Friday, Time reported.

The Hawthorne mayor is hardly the only person considering the merits of body-mounted cameras for police officers. Michael Brown’s death has brought conversations about video checks on police to the fore. 

In 2013, a researcher who undertook the first experimental evaluation of body-mounted cameras in Rialto, California, found a 50 percent reduction in the use of force incidents with police, and a dramatic 88 percent drop in the number of civilian complaints against police officers. Body-mounted cameras and dash cameras are billed as an accountability and protection mechanism for both police and civilians. 

But cameras have not been universally embraced. Police unions have spoken out against requirements to expand the usage of body cameras, calling them an "encumbrance," the Wall Street Journal reported.

Read the report on Rialto, California, police officer’s test run with body cameras at The Police Foundation.