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Body Worn Video Steering Group

Body cameras embraced by the police

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Since the death of Eric Garner, New Yorkers have been protesting by blocking major roads and intersections, and holding die-ins. Eric Garner

was killed by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo back in July last year. Pantaleo is not facing a trial; this has alarmed many as the whole thing was caught on video by Ramsey Orta, a friend of Garner.

Cop watch is the practise of filming police interactions with people. These patrols usually consist of two layers of cameras; a front team and a back team. If an officer tries to infringe on the rights of the front team, perhaps taking their cameras, the second string will have it on video. Cop watch is put into place to record a police encounter and protect against police b

There are many difference purposes of cop watching and despite popular belief the main purpose is not to post the footage publicly, although posting can be a tactic to put certain officers under increased scrutiny. The most immediate purpose is that police officers may change how they’re interacting with an individual when they notice the camera is watching them. Cop watch is a way of providing evidence for those who have been accused of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer.

Barack Obama made an announcement on December 1st stating that the federal government would become part of increased efforts to film policing. This has been carried through as after a three month review of police conduct in the United States, he also announced his plan to spend $75 million to fund body cameras for 50,000 police officers.

These body cameras should aid the courts once an incident has occurred between police officer and an individual.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton announced that about sixty New York City police officers would begin wearing body cameras by the end of 2014. The cameras will first be going to officers working in low-income areas of New York.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has voiced a strong support for body cameras, and added that before he leaves, the New York Police Department “will probably be the best technology-equipped department in America.” New York City Public Advocate Letitia James has also been a strong voice in providing body cameras to the New York Police Department, calling for $5 million in funding for the pilot program. She claimed that the cameras will reduce the amount of money the city pays out in misconduct claims.

During the protests of the Michael Brown shooting, calls for body cameras have become increasingly popular. One of the most popular petitions regarding Michael Brown – which has collected over 100,000 signatures – is the “Mike Brown Law” where all police officers nationwide would be required to wear a camera.

Some people are disturbed that all this increased surveillance only shows the officer’s perspective of the interaction and this is fundamentally the opposite of cop watch. However, with Reveal cameras wide field of view and high audio features, it is still very likely that the evidence will provide support for individuals who get involved in an incident with a police officer. Body worn cameras main purposes are to provide more reliable evidence in court of an incident – rather than just taking both the police officer’s and perpetrator’s word – and to deter crimes from happening. Although body cameras may show the officer’s perspective, they still prove to benefit society in many ways.

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