Free Essay. Importance of Body-Worn Cameras in Law Enforcement

Published: 2023-05-22
Free Essay. Importance of Body-Worn Cameras in Law Enforcement
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Problem solving Electronics Police Public relations
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1410 words
12 min read

Body-worn cameras have proved to be transformative technology leading to improved policing, hence the need to ensure their widespread use. Over the years, technology has played a vital role in crime reduction due to increased efficiency in law enforcement. Body-worn cameras though relatively new in police departments, have shown their benefits. Despite their numerous advantages, body-worn cameras have also been highly criticized due to privacy concerns, and claims of de-policing. Since police know they are putting themselves at risk every time they go on duty, they should have body cams because it provides safety for the police and the public, protects them from false accusations of misconduct, and the surveillance footage can be a good learning tool for police officers in training.

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Body-worn Cameras as Sources of Evidence

When good policies are enacted, body-worn cameras provide credible evidence during trials to help in the determination of sentences. Courts are often faced with numerous cases that take long periods due to a lack of sufficient evidence. This leads to the crowding of prisons due to the remanding of many suspects. Body-worn cameras provide the footage, which is an unbiased witness that helps in the faster resolution of cases (McFarlin). Since the evidence provided is compelling, there is an increase in guilty pleas and the number of arrests. As a result, courts have an easier time in making judgments, thus reducing their workload and increasing their efficiency. Another benefit is that the evidence from body-worn cameras has ensured fair trials reducing instances of fabricated evidence leading to wrongful convictions. Therefore, it is vital for police officers to embrace this technology as it has made their work easier and helped departments and courts to save time and costs involved in otherwise lengthy hearings.

Behavior Change

According to Dr. Ariel, a specialist in criminology, body-worn cameras have had the most dramatic impact on the behaviors of police officers and suspects (Grenoble). Police departments have been under pressure due to the alleged negative behaviors of police officers. There have been claims of discrimination and excessive use of force. Police officers have defended themselves that they are forced to make decisions in a split of second often faced by the threat of suspects. Body-worn cameras have helped to remove these uncertainties. When both police officers and members of the public are aware they are being recorded, they change their behaviors significantly.

One of the major behavioral changes is a reduction in the use of force. Cases of use of force have been on the rise, which has tainted the image of law enforcement agencies. Body-worn cameras have helped to reduce the use of force as officers are forced to make better decisions. A police department in Rialto reported a 60 percent decline in the use of force during the first year of implementation of body-worn cameras (Kissiah). With such a significant change in behavior, the importance of body-worn cameras is undeniable. Furthermore, there are instances where officers are forced or allowed by law to use force. But, due to the growing criticism, any excessive use of force has been met with a lot of negativity. Body-worn cameras have helped to review such cases, thus vindicating officers and protecting them from false accusations (Wallace).

Due to the growing transparency and accountability among police officers, there has been a subsequent decrease in the number of complaints. According to a report from the Rialto Police Department, body-worn cameras led to a decrease in complaints by 87.5 percent (Erstad). Previously, departments spent a vast amount of time dealing with complaints and lawsuits filed against them, which proved costly. With a reduction in complaints, departments can focus their resources on curbing crime.

The behavior of the public towards police officers wearing body-worn cameras has changed significantly. Some suspects have defiant attitudes, such as refusing arrest, and threatening officers (McFarlin). However, when they are aware they are being recorded, they alter their behavior so as not to incriminate themselves. The threat of the cameras thus helps to reduce tensions, thus aiding in the de-escalation of situations (Menno). Police officers and suspects are faced with tense situations that lead to poor decision making such as shooting. However, body-worn cameras limit the use of force by officers, and the suspect also calms down knowing their actions are recorded.

Officer and Public Safety

Another reason for police officers to use body-worn cameras is that it increases their safety as well as that of the public. The camera serves as a surveillance tool that records every interaction of police officers with the public. Therefore, both parties are forced to behave ethically, thus ensuring their safety.

Evaluation of Police Officers

Police departments can use footage to analyze the behaviors of officers. The records of how police interact with the public, how they deal with suspects are important. Analysis of these records can be used to train officers on how to handle situations better. For example, in a shooting, the videos can be reviewed to train officers on how the situation could have been handled better to avoid the use of excessive force.

Improved Public Perception

Due to the advantages of body-worn cameras, there has been an improved public perception of police. One of the main challenges of law enforcement agencies has been a poor relationship with the public. This relationship has mainly due to a negative image due to the increase in the use of force and discrimination. Body-worn cameras have put an end to many of these vices, which have changed how the public views police. As a result, there has been a better relationship between police departments and the public, as seen by an increase in community policing. The success of police officers is dependent on public approval, which has been increased by body-worn cameras (Chapman).

The Downside of Body-worn Cameras

Despite the numerous advantages of body-worn cameras, it has its disadvantages. First, there is the high cost of acquisition. Police departments with huge numbers of police officers have to incur the cost of obtaining these cameras. With limited budgets, this is a challenge for many departments. To add to this, the storage of the footage has extra costs, which is tougher for small departments (Gest). There have also been privacy concerns as the cameras record at times without the knowledge of the public (Wallace). Also. The cameras can lead to de-policing. Police officers may avoid controversial situations that may put them under the spotlight. The cameras have also put the police under pressure so much that they may be afraid to use force even when in danger, thus risking their lives.


Body-worn cameras are a revolutionary technology that has changed policing. It has served as evidence, led to a decrease in the use of force and police complaints, and ensured the safety of officers and the public, thus leading to an improved relationship between the public and police departments. However, the technology has its disadvantages, which can be minimized by funding departments to help them acquire this technology, enacting policies to guide its use, and training officers to use them effectively. Since the benefits of body-worn cameras outweigh the negativities, police officers should use this technology.

Works Cited

Chapman, Brett. "Body-Worn Cameras: What the Evidence Tells Us." National Institute of Justice, 14 November 2018. Accessed 17 April 2020.

Erstad, Will. "Police Perspective: The Pros & Cons of Police Body Cameras." Rasmussen College, 25 January 2016. Accessed 17 April 2020.

Gest, Ted. "Impact of Police Body-Worn Cameras Limited, Study Says." The Crime Report, 25 March 2019. Accessed 17 April 2020.

Kissiah, Michael. "Police Body Cameras: Do They Reduce Complaints of Officer Misconduct?", 29 April 2019. Accessed 17 April 2020.

McFarlin, Christopher. "Body-Worn Cameras: Benefits and Best Practices for Police." In Public Safety, 7 January 2015. Accessed 17 April 2020.

Menno, Christian. "Police focus on the pros, cons of body cameras." AP News, 18 August 2018.,-cons-of-body-cameras. Accessed 17 April 2020.

Wallace, Edward. "Why Police Should Wear Body Cameras." Crime Center, 22 October 2018. Accessed 17 April 2020.

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