ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In an article by National Public Radio that looks at the increasing use of police body cameras, it’s pointed out that new technology doesn’t always give the expected result. Call it a case of unintended consequences, where you expect one thing to happen but didn't anticipate something else.
In the case of police body cameras, expectations were set high by a study performed in Rialto, Calif. In 2012, police in Rialto did a well-documented study of body cameras and how they can be used to protect both officers and citizens. Police in Rialto found that they used force much less often when wearing a body camera.
The NPR article points out that Rialto police were particularly well engaged with the process using body cameras, from the chief on down to patrol officers. Not all police departments will have this level of acceptance, and that will trigger misunderstandings, misuse and hard feelings — and unhappy cops are probably not what you want on the streets of a city.
In another case cited in the article, a police officer wearing a body camera is suddenly shot and killed by someone the officer is questioning in a domestic dispute. As such video becomes increasingly more common, how long will it be before videos of police being killed are available on YouTube or some other video sharing site?
Body cameras certainly have their uses, but the NPR article points out that we need to be careful about the unintended consequences of adopting this technology wholesale. You can read the article on National Public Radio's web site by clicking on this link.