For some reason, folks think putting body cameras on police officers will solve the media over-hyped police-abuse problem. Yes change is needed. Yes there are bad cops, just like there are bad teachers, lawyers, judges and doctors. But putting body cameras on police officers is not the solution the public thinks it is. It sounds good in theory. Sure, if police officers know their every move and interaction with the public is being taped, they’re less likely to behave badly. True. However, there’s also a catch 22.
When folks call 911, they’re not experiencing a great moment in their lives. Emergency calls aren’t happy hour invites. They’re distress calls where lives are at stake. How would you feel about the worst, most vulnerable moments of your life being videotaped? That’s what you have when you put body cameras on police officers responding to tragic, horrible, embarrassing and private life moments. With body cameras on police officers, there’s no longer an expectation of privacy.
How willing is an abused wife to call the police knowing the officers are showing up with lights and cameras? How willing is a mom to call 911 when her son is overdosing on drugs if she knows police will show up with body cameras to document this frail situation? How willing is a rape victim to call 911 knowing her most vulnerable and devastating moment will be captured by cameras? Body cameras on police officers sounds good in theory, but the reality is our most vulnerable and tragic moments will forever be memorialized on camera and who knows where that footage will end up or how it will impact our lives in the future.