Smile, You’re On Camera! Will Body Cameras Prevent Dangerous Situations?

Smile, You’re On Camera! Will Body Cameras Prevent Dangerous Situations?

It’s late at night, and you didn’t use a turn signal, or maybe you accidentally rolled through a stop sign; and that’s it. It’s as if someone switched off the camera and paused the footage; your life is interrupted by red and blue flashing lights. Sounds a bit dramatic I know, but we’ve all been there. No matter what the scenario is, it always is an intense feeling when we get pulled over by the police. And depending on what happens next the situation could be dangerous for both involved.

But is the fear justified? Well that is debatable and I suppose depends on your own personal life experience. Most police officers are good people who just want to do their job and get home to their families just like everyone else. But even if 99% of the brave men who don a blue uniform are outstanding citizens it only takes a few bad apples to create some very scary and dangerous situations.

So what is the answer? Many activists, legislators, and even police officers themselves say the solution to some of these problems is to use body cameras. Like the old saying says, “The camera doesn’t lie”.

Rand Paul Supports The Use Of Body Cameras

On the surface it seems like a straightforward solution and many Republicans and Democrats agree; Senator Rand Paul is among them. Last week, Senator Paul announced the bipartisan Police CAMERA Act with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Representatives Corrine Brown (FL-05) and Keith Ellison (MN-05) .

In support of the legislation Paul stated:

“Body cameras will benefit the brave men and women who serve our police force and the people they protect”.

Rep. Ellison added that:

“After the tragic deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Robert Saylor and Tamir Rice, a stronger bond must be forged between our communities and police forces. The pilot program created by the Police CAMERA Act empowers law enforcement officials who want to do better for the people they protect and serve.  Body cameras alone won’t stop the next tragedy, but we should take every common-sense step we can to increase accountability and protect both civilians and police officers.”

Cambridge University Study: 87% Drop In Police Complaints With Use Of Body Cameras

It would appear to be a win-win situation and there is now concrete data to back it up. According to The Blaze, this data came in the form of a study conducted by the Cambridge University that found cameras not only reduced the use of force by police officers but at the same time lead to a dramatic drop in complaints from citizens. The study conducted with the Realto, California police department documented an 87 percent drop in police complaints when they were wearing the body cameras.

It seems that the real life impact on both officers and citizens who knew a camera was present was enough to defuse potential conflict.

Just like a convenience store that has a “Smile, You’re On Camera!” sign in their store deters potential theft, it seems that just the idea that a camera worn by a police officer is filming is enough to diffuse many potentially dangerous situations. So next time when you see those red and blue lights flashing in your rear view mirror just relax, smile, because you’re on camera!

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter or Facebook. Would you feel safer if more police officers wore body cameras?

Written by Chaz Bowman; Edited by staff

(Photo courtesy of Jon Candy, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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