Back in the 1990s, there was a sustained effort among police departments across the U.S. — including right here in Nebraska — to outfit all squad cars with dashboard cameras.
These efforts ultimately proved successful, as these cameras are now standard equipment on most squad cars, capturing real-time footage of everything from drunk driving stops to arrests for drug crimes.
Interestingly enough, there is now a push among the Omaha Police Department to take these recording efforts one-step further by equipping officers with cameras that can be mounted on everything from uniforms to eyewear.
In fact, the police department is actually in the middle of a pilot program, in which officers in the southeast and northeast precincts are testing 12 wearable cameras in the field for the next 30 days.
The cameras, manufactured by Taser International, are supposed to be activated whenever an officer is interacting with the public, and placed on a docking station at the end of the day where they will charge and upload all recorded footage to a digitally encrypted storage website.
Supporters of the wearable cameras argue that they help build stronger cases, reduce the number of complaints against officers, and foster better relationships between police officers and the community.
Perhaps even more significant, they argue that the cameras help reduce incidents in which officers use force against civilians.
Indeed, Taser International claims a study showed that police officers who wore the cameras in a California town in 2012 and 2013 were 59 percent less likely to use force against civilians.
While all of this is certainly laudable, use of wearable cameras by police officers does raise some very important concerns as they relate to the general public. For example, the question naturally arises as to whether protections are in place concerning both privacy and the potential for misuse.
“The sad reality is if you allow the individual officers to have the ability to turn on or turn off the camera, it opens up the possibility for abuse,” said an official with the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
What are your thoughts on the idea of Omaha police being outfitted with wearable cameras? Does the idea make you uncomfortable or would you view this as a welcome change?
Remember to consider speaking with an experienced and dedicated legal professional if you been arrested for any type of crime — drug crime, violent crime, sex crime — to ensure that your rights, your freedom and your future are protected.
Source: The World-Herald, “Omaha police get new must-have crime-fighting gadgets: Small cameras worn on officers’ bodies,” Alissa Skelton, June 19, 2014