Could Body-Worn Cameras Prevent the Next Ferguson?

With protest and outcry in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., citizens and police find themselves looking for answers on how to improve relations and prevent more senseless death; some argue that the answer is wearable cameras.

body-worn-cameras-police-fergusonRecently, BrickHouse Security CEO Todd Morris joined Fox Business’ Liz Claman on After the Bell to discuss the rising trend of officers turning to body-worn cameras for added accountability in dealing with the public.

“We’ve heard from police officers who pay with their own money, out of their own pocket, for a camera,” Morris said. “They have had people calm down and relax as soon as they mention, ‘Sir, you’re on video.'”

In precincts that have made body-worn cameras mandatory among officers, complaints against police are down 88%, as was the case in Rialto, Calif.

America tends to agree with the stats. A soon-to-be-announced survey of more than 500 Americans conducted by BrickHouse Security shows that three quarters of those surveyed believe police officers should be required to have body-worn cameras.

Cameras benefit both police and public by providing a video record of any interaction. This documentation not only adds accountability to officers dealing with the public, but it eliminates costly false accusations against police.

“Police officers, unfortunately, are accused of doing things they didn’t do more often than people know,” Morris said, leading to a cost of “hundreds of millions [of dollars] in large cities” from false allegations.

The interview concluded with a tour of some of the body-worn cameras officers are using around the country, from professional-grade police cameras to more covert recording devices like pen and glasses cameras.

Whether these devices can prevent the next Ferguson seems both ambitious and ambiguous, with some police officers and entire precincts failing to adopt the technology. There is also a question of training and systemic flaws in officer response tactics.

“The trickiest question is, when an officer is in a stressful situation, will they reach for their camera and push the button, or will they reach for their baton, or their taser, or their gun first?” Morris asks.

About the author  ⁄ Erik Helin

Erik is BrickHouse Security's copy chief. Hailing from the Midwest (Wisconsin), Erik moved to NYC in 2010, securing a job at BrickHouse shortly thereafter. Outside of work he writes about music, does freelance advertising work, and wastes his life on the internet. Aside from no-brainers like cheese and beer, Erik enjoys music, travel, TV, his cat, and Brooklyn.

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