As technology grows and develops so does our system for maintaining accountability and finding the truth. With cell phone camera and video advancement, every citizen can take, capture, and publish pictures, videos, and their opinions. This has recently incited protests and investigations into police interactions with citizens. Multiple Police Departments across America are looking into supplementing citizen cell phone videos by arming police with society’s latest weapon for the truth, body cameras. Police Officers would strap these cameras on at the beginning of their shift, remove them at the end, and keep them rolling in between.
Cocoa Police Department was the first agency in Brevard County to equip their patrol officers with body cameras. According to the Cocoa Police Chief, “in the age of emerging technologies such as social media and the growing presence of what we refer to as “citizen journalists” we know that perception is reality.” One of the advantages of police body cameras is that viewers have the ability to grasp a better and more thorough understanding of the police officer’s perspective on the situation. Each angle of a video tells a different story, and showing a law enforcement’s perspective and perception allows for an easier path to the truth and due process.
Melbourne Police Department is hesitant to provide body cameras to their officers, citing high costs and a lack of clear answers as their reasoning. City Manager Mike McNees was quoted comparing police body cameras to NFL instant replays, “It has been extremely helpful. But one of the lessons from watching them is that even in a highly controlled environment, with multi-million-dollar investment in hardware and technology for each individual game, the video is not always conclusive. And there are still questions that arise” (Florida Today). It is estimated that the cameras will cost Melbourne PD over $500,000, plus additional cost for extra personal and for video storage. Currently, Melbourne’s plan is to pay attention to police agencies that already have body cameras and keep tabs on the associated court cases.
In March, Governor Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 93, which requires that Florida law enforcement agencies that use body cameras have policies and procedures to ensure the camera’s proper use, that officers be trained on how to properly use, maintain and store data from these cameras, and more. This bill does not require any law enforcement agency to have body cameras, it simply requires that if they decide to purchase them they use them properly.
In Cleveland the reputation and freedom of four police officers were saved after police body camera footage showed that the police were justified in their use of lethal force. While these cameras have many pros and cons, they have yet to be implemented uniformly across law enforcement agencies. If you have been arrested we strongly recommend you contact Platt Hopwood Attorneys at Law before speaking to anyone. The Constitution guarantees you the right to an attorney in a criminal case, use it by calling (321) 725-3425.