A Look at Police Body Cam Technologies, and Where They Fall Short
The nationwide protests over the killing of George, Floyd brought many things alight from racial inequality to police brutality. One issue that's come back to the forefront is whether or not police body cams are effective tools to hold officers accountable. I'm Roger Jiang. This is your daily charge with me senior video producer Butch Kerry who was a video out today discussing this various you welcome bridget. Thanks for having me. So body cameras really spiked popularity with the police back between fourteen talk about what really sparked this move answer where we are today yeah. It really began with Michael Brown because when he was shot by a white police officer in two thousand fourteen, there was no video footage to show it happened in the officer didn't face charges. So the family came out and Please request thought you know there's a movement that police can wear body cameras that was pushed even further by President Obama also saying that this should be the change for the future. Then there were federal grant setup to help departments pay for them. So you did have this big increase in police departments trying to help their relationship with the community and saying, Hey, we're going to have body cameras now but I mean that was present fourteen and I feel like we're still at the same place which. Is why I wanted to do this report and look into how do they work and why are we still at the same place and it really comes down to how different departments are using the cameras zero zillion talk a little bit about that and just to give our listeners a sense of how broadly there used. I, know you mentioned those grants to the Justice Department awarded place apartments in thirty states more than twenty three, million dollars for body Cam. So how many police officers actually use them? That the data right now, when you look at the statistics, it's looking like about half of our nation right now has officer some way or another obviously is hard to be exactly of small apartments, large departments but right now the idea looks like about half the country has law enforcement wearing some kind of camera or has tested out cameras some. In some way I, mean issues basic the you have officers wear cameras people will change their behavior when they know they're being recorded right there's more trust now when they're when there's a cameras more accountability these really lofty goals for one piece attack at there have been a few snags along the way. Of them being cost of storage because you have all these officers recording when they come into a situation every day. So figure, every officer has maybe three or four hours of recording everyday they have to store in the cloud. Well, how long are they storing that and how much is needing to be saved It's all different depending on every single up police department. So sometimes, it's months sometimes years and you're looking at costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. One department only had five police officers in the little town of Nebraska, and they were looking at something around fifteen grand. A year and this is like not folk is not feasible for every department to pay this because those those grants we talked about they don't cover ongoing storage costs. So some departments have been pulled out of using them because they don't see it's it's useful for them to be paying for it because the storage storage is definitely issued cost is an issue. These unforeseen costs are a real. Red Flag but bring it back to you know the ultimate idea that these cameras were supposed to bring accountability and to prove relations with the community was twenty and we're still protesting about police brutality Take things are worse than they ever are they have been. So what happened how did they fail to accomplish that goal? I wouldn't call them an outright failure, but it certainly is a failure in A. Couple of aspects one It goes back to how these tools are being used for one A officers have the ability for the most part right now to start and stop the recording on their own because they they really feel like you should have that kind of freedom. Do you really want a camera to be always turned on in every instance? No not when you're visiting someone at the hospital Having a private conversation or just you know having your lunch that said, what are the punishments if you don't hit that record button when you were supposed to or finding that there isn't a lot of incentive to do the right thing or I should say you know punishment if you miss a recording when you're supposed to at least that's what a lot of the researchers I talked to were saying that. If if you don't activate your camera, you know what's the consequence for that That's that's one area that's missing. Other area that that's missing is how can the public get access to this footage to be accountable? You countless studies have been done, and most recently they looked at all the studies and said, all right. What's the data we're seeing that there are fewer complaints against police officers. That's a good thing. We're seeing that police officers have footage to say, Hey, look I was justified that this was a false complaint against me. Great cameras are showing the truth in different aspects but a cameras show every angle of the story that happened and the cameras only as good as being able to release the footage. So some researchers I talked to said. We WanNA. See more data on can the public access when they want to receive some change now in New York City the mayor said that anytime now there is an incident where someone killed or seriously injured they will release footage but for a while there was this law that said, they don't have to release anything. We'll as a camera that you know. So so that's really the problem. I it comes down to not having a uniformed a set of rules or standards on win. This footage can be released in how it can be used. To the point of consistency, you mentioned New York City Mayor de Blasio a changes law he's fairly alone. He's he's sort of serve an isolated case right? Because the the rules are very greatly I don't think there's any kind of national mandate to be more transparent about when they released this footage ride, we're starting to see changes win the public points, their camera at a situation and out that officers didn't have their cameras turned on over in. Louisville when there was a shooting at the restaurant owner those officers who did not activate. Their cameras were put on leave a might my questions are okay they're put on leave but they're suspended. Where are you know the the more serious deterrence there? You know what's happening people are losing their jobs over it out win when government realized that the spotlight's on them you know but we have to look at what's going on in terms of using them. There is some technology though that is kind of starting to change that part of it like having a camera automatically turn on when it senses something's happening it could be win a Taser guns pulled out of a holster. It could be also not so serious like when it detects a police vehicle going at a certain speed or detects other kind of check marks author software so that Way If an officer is in the heat of the moment and can't remember to turn on their camera. It does it for them There's also talk about live streaming. So some of the cameras are able to have a superior back at home base tap into what that officer is seen in real time. That is a great advantage. When something serious is going down, they get a real time feedback. But. It's something that they're also can be push back with with police unions going wait a second I don't want someone seeing what I'm doing all times I don't live streaming only a few departments really have started to use livestream I. Think Cincinnati was one of the first that used the teaser brand of version of livestream on their cameras, and that was just February so very early for that technology but there's a lot of talk about that.