In May of last year, police body cameras were approved by the Detroit City Council. The plan was to spend just over five million dollars on equipment for 1,500 officers and 450 dash cameras for vehicles. This move by the city council and police department created one of the largest synchronized police camera systems in the nation. Body cameras have been helpful in many cases to help a defendant prove their position and in some cases they have created more questions in crime prosecution. They are an important tool for creating police accountability, but like any technology, they have flaws and may not always work. This creates the question, “do body and dash cameras really help?”
The Benefits of Body Cameras
The great thing about the camera system that was implemented by the city of Detroit is that it does not require any effort by the officer to turn on the equipment. The synchronized system turns on dash and body cameras automatically under a number of circumstances including:
- When lights and sirens are on, on the car
- When the police vehicle’s back doors are opened
- Under sudden acceleration of the vehicle
- Or when the police vehicle crashes
Officer’s body cameras are required to remain on when dealing with the public, except in the instances where they are investigating sensitive crimes such as sexual assault or domestic violence.
Body cameras give an unbiased, third viewpoint to an interaction or police incident. They are a benefit to both the police officer and the public, since they provide a recording of all individuals involved in an incident. These recordings can be incredibly useful in court proceedings as evidence in the prosecution of crimes where an officer was present.
There Are Limitations
Just like any other technology that you use in your daily life, body and dash cameras are not always reliable. As the Detroit police department has started implementing the use of these devices, they have quickly learned, just as many other departments have, that cameras are not a perfect solution to police accountability. The cameras can lose power, fall off of the officer, become broken or fail to turn on automatically, and in these cases the camera provides no assistance. Other limitations occur when there are events unfolding to the back or side of the officer. These actions cannot be accurately recorded by the body camera, and may cause confusion about the events not happening in the view of the camera.
What Does this Mean for Citizens?
Do these pieces of technology really work in creating police accountability and providing an accurate, unbiased view of a police involved event? In many cases, yes they do. However, the limitations of the equipment can result in footage that is confusing or non-existent. If you are being prosecuted for a crime, and body cameras were not helpful for your case, it’s important to remember that plenty of impartial evidence was also gathered at the crime scene that can be incredibly valuable for your case.
I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you have been charged with a crime, or feel that your civil rights have been violated by police or other law enforcement entities, the Law Offices of Matthew Kolodziejski is here to help. Our experienced team of attorneys have a proven track record of success for our clients. To speak with one of our attorneys, 24 hours a day, please call (313) 736-5060 or fill out our Case Review contact form.