With the advent of cameras in phones and cameras that you just point and shoot has come an increase in film and audio interactions between citizens and the police.
The circumstances in Ferguson, Mo., ironically, might not have become as volatile as it has if there had been a filmed record of what occurred between Michael Brown and the officer who shot him. What were the actions and reactions that resulted in the death of Brown? No one truly knows now except the officer, thus resulting in a blame game between the two sides.
Which brings me to the decision by the Coeur d’Alene Police Department to equip patrol personnel with body cameras.
This is a fantastic move by the department.
If an incident occurs that results in a complaint filed against the department, the recording, in most cases, should prove to be good evidence for what transpired. Police car dash cameras do not show an entire incident. They are limited to the view directly out the front window.
Body cameras show an incident from beginning to end. It isn’t a 360-degree panorama of things, but it is better than no view at all.
The cameras are a two-way street: Citizens should feel somewhat more confident that law enforcement will act responsibly and not abuse the power of the badge. On the flip side, officers should also feel confident that should an unfortunate incident occur where they were justified in their actions, the footage will show that as well.
The Coeur d’Alene Police Department deserves praise for taking this initiative. Given some time, the department will learn how useful the cameras are, both for the police and for citizens. If the results are positive, police departments across Idaho should be encouraged to follow.
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