15 Sep 2022


The Presence of Body-Worn Cameras in Law Enforcement

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 591

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Law enforcement systems across the world are incorporating technology in their operations in an effort to fight crime. These technologies include videos, wire taps and fingerprint identification techniques among others. In the United States, different police departments have widely adopted the use of videos in their operations. These videos present evidence that can be used in the arrest and prosecution of crime suspects. However, there are reported cases where crime suspects have been fatally shot in unclear circumstances. The police officers manipulate these videos in order to conceal any evidence against them. 

The use of body-worn cameras among the police was introduced as a result of growing mistrust between the civilians and the police officers. The civilians observed that the officers were misusing their authority and in turn handling them brutally. In an effort to address this dissatisfaction, policies were developed to reform the police force by initiating the use of body-worn cameras (Maury, 2016). This policy was intended to positively change the actions of both the police and the civilians as a result of the awareness of the presence of the cameras. However, despite the introduction of these cameras, police officers have been reported to behave contrary to the law enforcement rules and regulations. 

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In 2015-2016, thirty-one police officers were charged with murder or manslaughter because of shooting of civilians (Stinson, 2017). Suprisingly, in ten of the cases, the officers were wearing body cameras. The presence of these cameras did not prevent them from fatally shooting crime suspects because they believed that they could get away with their actions. According to Stinson (2017), the police officers carried out these shootings because they could manipulate the cameras in various ways. Firstly, they turned off the cameras and in some instances, they never turned them on before beginning their rounds. They carried out the shootings with the knowledge that the proceedings were not being recorded eliminating the possibilities of evidence associating them with these crimes. Secondly, the police officers attempted to tamper with these cameras or the recordings. They manipulated the cameras to prevent them from working effectively affecting the recording process. Furthermore, the recordings could be manipulated to display whatever they wanted hence limiting chances of availability of reliable evidence against them. Finally, the police officers presented excerpts of the videos that did not incriminate them in these shootings. 

A study by Katz et al. (2014) established that 13.2%-42.2% of crime incidents were recorded by the body-worn cameras. One of the reasons for this low adaption was the fear that the recordings may be used against the police officers. It is therefore important to ensure that they use these cameras efficiently and effectively in order to prevent police involved shootings. It is my observation that monitoring devices should be incorporated into these cameras. These devices should be able to display real time recordings from the cameras to a central system within the police department offices for comparison purposes. They should also detect and report whenever a camera is switched off in order to ensure that they are always in use. Furthermore, they should be able to track the police officers’ locations in order to establish the areas police officers visited when on duty. All these will prevent police officers from manipulating the cameras. 

In conclusion, technology has been widely adopted law in enforcement. Police officers use body-worn cameras in identification and prosecution of crime suspects. However, they have manipulated these cameras to favor them when on the wrong side of the law. It is therefore important to ensure that the police officers do not manipulate these cameras through constant monitoring. 


Katz, Charles M., David E. Choate, Justin R. Ready, & Lidia Nuno. (2014). Evaluating the Impact of Officer Worn Body Cameras in the Phoenix Police Department. Phoenix, AZ: Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, Arizona State University 

Maury, Kyle J. (2016). Police Body-Worn Camera Policy: Balancing the Tension Between Privacy and Public Access in State Law, Notre Dame Law Review , 92(1), 11 

Stinson, Philip M. (2017). Police Shooting Data: What We Know and What We Don’t Know, Criminal Justice Faculty Publications , 78 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). The Presence of Body-Worn Cameras in Law Enforcement.


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