A new order was issued last Thursday to D.C. police officers who are equipped with body cameras to check in with department dispatchers before they engage with citizens and respond to calls. The order was issued in order to make sure the cameras are turned on after an officer fatally shot motorist Terence Sterling before turning on his camera last Sunday.
While there’s no mention of the order issued for body cameras in a report by WUSA9, it did show footage recorded by a witness of the shooting on their smartphone and provided other details of the incident.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser issued the order in a statement she made on Thursday as part of an effort to address crime. Thus far, it appears that the D.C. police department under interim police chief Peter Newsham are going along with the body camera program since it was put in place last year, according to The Washington Post.
Lawmakers nationwide began enforcing the user of body cameras after Micheal Brown and Eric Garner were killed in 2014, with the Obama administration pushing out a proposal which would require Congress to authorize $75-million dollars over the span of three years for the technology. The plan would include a proposal to reimburse the communities using the cameras.
The article refers to small towns that were on board to start using the technology before larger cities would. Such is the case with the Denton Police Department, who are currently saying that complaints against their officers are down thanks to body cameras.
Ofc Weatherford got caught with his hands in the cookie jar! pic.twitter.com/MTojGGUr57
— DENTON POLICE DEPT (@DENTONPD) August 24, 2016
Those officers feel that the new body cameras are helping people to be more honest about their complaints against the police officers, as well as holding the officers accountable.
Even though body cameras are generally thought of as mandatory since 2014 after nationwide outrage over the widely reported deaths of civilians at the hands of officers, many police departments still trying to account for fatal shootings. The death of Terrence Sterling, whose funeral was on Saturday, according to WUSA9, is just one of the most recent cases in which the body cam did not record the shooting.
In the Sterling case, the officers involved in the shooting were placed on off-duty status while an investigation is completed.
As for Denton, one report by a local CBS affiliate refers to Officer Shane Kizer, who said that at this time last year, they had 110 complaints, and now this year, it’s been whittled down to just 30.
Of course, Denton is a small college town with a population of 128,205 located an hour’s distance from the big-city example, Dallas. Obviously, even when the complaints were at 110, they were still low in comparison to the complaints filed against officers in larger cities.
The department is largely in agreement that body cameras capture everything that’s going on between the citizen and the officer. Former Washington D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier talked about the use of body cameras in October of 2014 on The Kojo Nnamdi Show.
“Well, we’ve been closely tracking the body cameras for quite some time and actually evaluating our implementation for about 18 months. So we’ve talked to police departments, about 27 different police departments that have rolled the cameras out and used them over the past several years. And the technology’s gotten better and better but across the board every single agency that has used these cameras said that citizen complaints against police dropped roughly 80 percent and that officers use of force went down 50 to 60 percent. So that’s win-win for everybody as far as I’m concerned.”
However, there is still resistance against the technology either because some officers refuse to wear them or those who are on the front lines of opposition to body cameras are making arguments that they take too much power away from the police. The same can be said about the laws to prevent transparency by police departments in Ohio and North Carolina, where there is a battle over the right of police to ban civilians from using their cell phones or video cameras to record law enforcement officers, as reported by Inquisitr.
Surely, those departments in favor of body cameras are growing, and they are contributing making communities safer for all concerned.
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