Given the recent political and social unrest centering around police brutality, police dash cams and body cams are coming into the public eye as tools for combating police violence and misconduct. Of course, there are still flaws — body cams and dash cams can be turned off or broken — but the hope is that active use of police dash cams and body cameras for law enforcement will reduce the amount of police misconduct, or at the very least, make law enforcement officers tempted to abuse their power think twice. The cam footage can also help protect officers if they’re accused of misdemeanors and the footage can prove otherwise. It’s powerful evidence if a case is brought into court. In some cases, some cams can even be automatically turned on when the lights and sirens are activate, to record a car chase or traffic stops.
How Many Officers and Police Departments Currently Employ The Use of Police Dash Cams and Body Cams?
In 2012, there were over 775,000 police officers currently patrolling in the United States. However, between 2012 and 2022, the police force is supposed to go up by over 40,000 members. However, a 2013 survey run by the Police Executive Research Forum showed that about three-quarters of police departments who were polled did not wear body cams. Additionally, only a little over 70% of state police and highway patrol vehicles have video systems installed. Ideally, either all police cruisers or all police officers should be outfitted with some kind of camera, to keep both sides accountable and safe. The low number of both is disappointing, especially since they’ve been proven to work in providing evidence, keeping police officers in check, and all sides responsible for their actions.
Are More Supposed To Be Installed Over the Next Few Years?
The number is certainly on the rise. The international dash cam market was almost $1500 million in 2013 and is expected to have an annual growth rate of a little over 15% between 2014 and 2020. Even from 2000 to 2003, the amount of in-car cameras used by police officers went from 3,400 to 17,500, and that number is expected to only increase, given the recent publicized outbreak of police brutality.
The government is also helping fund local and statewide departments with in-car cameras. By the start of 2004, around 47 states and DC had received over 20 million dollars in federal aid to purchase in-car cameras.
How Effective Are Body Cams and Police Dash Cams?
Over 75% of officers say they believe body cams are more effective than dash cams — approval straight from the source! The Police Department for the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee ran a report in 2015 that showed that complaints against the San Diego police fell by over 40%, the use of “personal body” force by officers fell by almost 47%, and the use of pepper spray decreased by over 30% when the San Diego police department implemented body cameras in their police force.
On the flip side, in 2012, a survey run by PoliceOne and TASER International that polled around 785 federal, sate, and local law enforcement professionals proved that 85% of respondents felt that body cameras cut down on the false claims of police misconduct and decrease the chances of litigation against the agency. Dash cams can also help record violence against police or prove that appropriate force was necessary if a suspect turns rowdy or violent.
Body cams and dash cams can also be used in officer training and police academies, to pinpoint mistakes or ways officers can more effectively go about their job. In all cases, dash cams and body cams can contribute to a better level of professionalism.
Body cams and dash cams can help both the community and police officers if used properly and appropriately. It’s important to raise awareness on both sides and encourage funding and support to go towards installing dash cams and giving officers body cams for patrol. It works in everyone’s interest and with the assistance of federal funding, every police department can have them installed.