Are Body Cameras The Solution To Police Brutality?

Edric Parker, Opinions Editor

As a child many of us are introduced to police officers as protectors of the law. Cops are viewed as real-life superheroes. In the eyes of the youth, they are praised for the duty they serve as they put their life on the line while serving the community. While there are officers that are truly heroic, there are also those who are corrupt and that must be held accountable for their actions.

Although many recent cases of police brutality were racially motivated, the subject is becoming a problem of power as well. It has been shown that some police officers use excessive force and abuse the authoritative power of their position. This has prompted civilians and officers have asked for body cameras to be issued to . Some feel this action would help lower incidents of police brutality while also making residents feel safe around officers and more reassured that their lives aren’t threatened.

Recently, certain areas have adopted this idea and have their officers wear body cameras. However, there have been multiple cases of cops turning their body cameras off before assaulting people. Some have shot and killed people with their body cameras on, or continue to attack people while being recorded by others.

According to the Washington Post, Police officers have been responsible for 917 killings in 2017, and the number is steadily rising towards the 963 deaths in 2016. While the highest recorded number of deaths were in 2014, with 1,100 deaths, this isn’t much of an improvement in the past few years. Police are nearing about 1000 killings per year if things stay at this pace and, although race plays a factor in this percentage, these killings include members of all ethnic backgrounds and ages who were unarmed individuals.

Recently, an officer’s body camera dating back to November 2016 recorded him planting evidence onto a suspect’s car before arresting him. Another officer fired multiple shots and killed an unarmed black man in handcuffs while his camera was recording. Daniel Shaver, a 26-year-old white male, was killed in a hotel hallway by an officer who ordered uncompromising demands at him and then fired an assault rifle while Shavers was on the ground face down with his hands up. The 27-year-old officer, whose rifle had the words “you’re f*****d” etched on it, was acquitted of all charges while the body camera recording was presented as evidence during the case. The officer was described as firing “an uncountable amount” at Shavers within a burst of seconds. Even when we have have body cameras, they’ve proved to not be effective enough against preventing police officers from ignoring the rights of citizens.

Therefore, the question continues to linger as to whether watching over police will lower the incidents of death and unnecessary force in police custody. After much research and observation, one could conclude that keeping an eye on officers with surveillance isn’t going to achieve anything. The problem with police brutality is up to the officers, their training, and the punishment that they will receive, which in many cases, isn’t much.

A way to reduce unnecessary force among police is to consistently convict the officers who have killed or beaten civilians, while also serving some form of punishment to officers who do things such as planting evidence on people. Too many times, police officers involved in these cases are given a paid administrative leave and don’t serve any prison time.

We need police academies to implement more strategies of safely obtaining suspects, while also getting rid of any cops who have records of using too much force or show prejudice while interacting with people. There are plenty of examples of cops who have taken armed individuals into custody alive while their own lives were truly in danger. The same effort needs to be put in by all cops to ensure the trust that people should have in them, instead of fear. People should feel that their officers “protect and serve”  as an obligation to do what is best for the community while also building a positive relationship with the residents.