Perhaps the streets of Ferguson will be a little safer now that the police department will be armed with body cameras.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, as of Saturday, Ferguson police began wearing the body cameras. Police Chief Tom Jackson said that his department received 50 body cameras from two companies, Safety Visions and Digital Ally about a week ago. The companies donated the cameras in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown Jr. at the hands of Ferguson officer, Darren Wilson.
Over the weekend, representatives from the company visited the police department to train the officers on how to use the cameras, which they clip on their uniforms. The cameras will record both audio and video.
Jackson said they’re still “playing with them” but eventually each officer will get one to use.
Jackson said the officers tested out the devices on Saturday during a protest march. He said they were able to capture footage of crowd members taunting the officers. He said the quality was good.
But more than just a way to monitor crowds, the cameras will also come in handy in instances where police officers exert deadly force. The presence of the body cameras will be able to provide more concrete information about what actually transpired and whether or not the officer should be tried in court.
Under normal use, the batteries in the camera would be able to last a full shift.
Jackson said the officers are enjoying the cameras and are trying to get used to them.
There was no video footage from the Michael Brown shooting. The police department bought three dash-mount cameras but didn’t have the money to install them, Jackson said.
Spurred by Brown’s death, other police departments in the St. Louis area are also taking strides toward the use of wearable cameras. Another Missouri police force, approved a $7,500 expenditure after the shooting to buy cameras for its officers.
And last month, a New York City official campaigned for a $5 million pilot program to place cameras on 15 percent of the city’s police force.
There is also a petition, called the “Mike Brown Law” which is asking the White House and Congress to approve a law that would require all state, country and local police to wear a camera.
This sounds like a good idea to me. Personally, aside from the obvious reason of police not wanting to be held accountable for their actions, I can’t understand why this hasn’t been the norm.