Body-worn cameras are small in size. Most body worn cameras are wearable with built in recording system storage. The majority, if not all BWC are designed to be worn on the torso. Some come with a clip others have a magnetic clasp. They can also be built onto a helmet or into a pair of glasses.
From law enforcement to military and journalism to covert surveillance, body worn cameras can have multiple uses to serve the society.
For law enforcement, body-worn cameras are used to record interactions with the public and also to collect evidence at crime scenes. They not only augment the officer’s accountability but also ensure that the police officer is able to collect crucial information that can be held as proof. Several studies have shown that complaints related to interactions with police officers reduced with use of body cameras. The use of force and assault on officers has also showed a declining trend with their use. Body worn cameras can have great utility for creating situational awareness and have often been termed a smart solution to eliminate the problems surrounding law enforcement.
Keeping this in mind, the use of body-worn cameras has increased in this field, making it an indispensable device for police officers. Nowadays, they have also become popular for security guards. While on duty, they might have to report problems to their supervisor and the validity of such issues can be corroborated by the recordings. But apart from assisting law enforcers, it also protects civilians against the abuse of power.
Security companies that offer armed and unarmed guard service have been deploying BWC for their agents. It has helped companies analyze employees work performance when it comes to resolving disputes. BWC have also helped security guard supervisors with instant live monitoring via wifi to guide their guards’ handling of situations better.
Deploying body cameras can aid in the de-escalation of anti-social behavior and assaults. It can also assist a well-guided evaluation of officers’ performances. A study by Cambridge University revealed that police equipped with body-worn cameras receive 93% fewer complaints by the public. Police Department of Rialto (California) reported a 59% reduction in incidents where force is used by police officers when BWC were worn.
Despite these positives, there are some concerns associated with body-worn cameras. This includes that of the privacy of those whom are being recorded. It is often argued that it flouts the privacy laws and therefore, their use needs to be regulated and kept under stringent check.
In 2010, police officers at the University of Maryland deleted video footage that could have served as a proof for the accusation that they were involved in beating students. Features of these devices and policies should strive towards making the evidence indisputable to allow it to serve its most essential function.
Body worn cameras, like any other devices, can be misused or utilized in a way that serves justice to all. Proper policies and guidelines, along with efficient technology and training, need to be used to reap the benefits with minimal pitfalls.
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