First American police forces were primarily influenced by those in England. American law enforcement organizations borrowed from London’s first modern police agency, crime control and prevention missions, preventative patrol strategies, and quasi-military organizational designs. Along with these three components, American policing adopted additional aspects of British policing, such as the idea that officers have restrictions on their authority. According to Hasbrouck (2020), today, the police continue to defend and serve the racial hierarchy that the Constitution itself blesses (p. 200). Individual freedoms were greatly valued in England and America; thus, police and government authority was limited. According to Adegbile (2016), video, resistance, and media exposure draw attention to tragic police-civil confrontations and a sense of urgency, sometimes accompanied by wider calls for change (p. 2222). It was not the same in other European nations, where the police were granted more authority, and individuals had fewer freedoms as a result of the increased power.
Local control of police agencies is another English tradition that has been incorporated into American culture. Unlike many other nations, the English and American systems do not have a single, centralized national law enforcement organization. Law enforcement in the United States is divided into local, state, and federal levels of government, but the bulk of police agencies are local governments. Decentralized and divided law enforcement is also a hallmark of American police. The American law enforcement system is characterized by a lack of coordination and collaboration between local law enforcement organizations. As a result of the Anglo-Saxon police model, police authority was severely limited, and centralized control was absent, as well as a dispersed and fractured structure.
American and British law enforcement regimes differed in some ways. Compared to American policing, England’s policing is characterized by a distinct lack of political involvement. When it came to policing in the U.S., the political impact was far more significant than in England. In reality, policing in the United States throughout the 19th century was regarded as inefficient, ineffectual, lacking professionalism, and very corrupt. According to Stevens (2017), “yet there is also a level of police corruption, poor training and accountability of officers, and unprofessional police management” (p. 5). This work was written with the aim of studying the modern U.S. police, as well body-worn cameras and how it affects law enforcement leaders.
The attitudes of law enforcement command personnel about Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) have not been studied despite this excitement. According to Smykla et al. (2016), many individuals are excited about the possible advantages of the cameras worn by the police (p. 424). However, despite the enthusiasm, the attitudes of police officers to BWCs were not investigated. It is essential to examine the perspectives of law enforcement leaders, given the role they play in the decision to approve and execute BWCs. In the United States, law enforcement agencies are increasingly using body-worn cameras that play an essential part in high-profile police shootings. The ways they are used and when they are made public, on the other hand, are vastly different. North Carolina has one of the most stringent rules when it comes to obtaining a copy of body-worn camera footage.
On the other hand, a new Colorado legislation would compel recordings to be provided to the public within 21 days after the agency receives a complaint of wrongdoing. Body-worn camera footage must be released promptly, according to civil rights experts, while maintaining privacy issues. There is a divide between those who support openness and those who oppose it, with some arguing that the films only provide a limited picture of occurrences and can distort public perceptions.
The Implementation of BWCs
The implementation of BWCs also entails significant expenses in terms of equipment and data storage, officer training, and the time necessary to download and evaluate recorded video, among other things. According to Lum et al. (2019), BWCs have already spread fast and will continue to be adopted by numerous agencies (p. 93). Although funding initiatives have been created to deploy BWC systems, continuing equipment upkeep and storage systems will be expensive for departments. With regard to BWCs, policemen and municipal authorities will probably have to decide on tough finances, such as salary for officers and other operational expenditures.
The Use of BWCs
Police personnel has body-worn video cameras that are tiny, visible devices worn on their uniforms. Officers utilize them to record both video and audio evidence when responding to a wide range of situations. According to Mackey and Courtney (2016), Tech has offered the necessary tools for better understanding and protecting the community Crime Act (p. 27). All police officers who interact with the public receive them. The camera’s location allows viewers to witness the incident from the policeman’s point of view. In this way, the camera functions as a third-party witness. The footage is stored on the camera’s hard disk drive. The film is uploaded to a safe place at the end of the policeman’s shift to ensure that it can be used as evidence in court or other legal actions.
There will be a 60-second loop of video but no audio when the camera is switched on. Unless the officer enables the camera to record, the 60 seconds of footage are not stored by the camera. As soon as a recording mode is selected, the preceding 60 seconds of footage are included. In normal circumstances, officers activate their cameras at the beginning of an incident or encounter and continue recording until it is no longer ‘roughly proportional or essential.’ For example, until the next state takes over, such as the police station’s CCTV – or until a different system can take over. In regular patrols, police officers will not be using BWV unless it is part of an operation. To alert individuals that they are being filmed, the camera will flash a red light in the center of the lens.
Privacy and BWCs
People must be informed that they are being videotaped under privacy regulations, and police will do so unless the scenario makes it impossible to do so. When a person is being videotaped, the camera’s red lights will blink. On the camera’s internal storage, the data is captured on a hard drive. An officer cannot remove or modify footage from the cameras. It is automatically sent to secure servers when a police officer docks their body camera so that the battery may be recharged. If a recording is deemed unsuitable for use as evidence at courts or in other legal actions, it will be destroyed automatically after 31 days.
Both prosecutors and defense counsel use police body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras to illustrate how officers interacted with victims, witnesses, and defendants in courtrooms around the country. According to Braga et al. (2017), many community players and criminals have stated that the installation of body-wear cameras on police personnel enhances police civility -citizens’ meetings and improves public opinion of the openness and legitimacy of the police (p. 1). BWC improves accountability and transparency for the police, improves the conduct of police officers and citizenship, reduces unjustifiable complaints against police officers, enhances the security of police officers and citizens, reduces police incidents of violence, assists in criminal proceedings, provides training for officers, and builds confidence between the police and their communities.
As a result, police encounters are more transparent and accountable. A police officer’s version of an arrest’s circumstances may be supported by footage from body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras. The state and federal courts have accepted that this sort of film can be used to corroborate an officer’s testimony. In addition, courts have determined that affidavits — obtained in conjunction with body-worn camera recordings and the officers’ recollections of what happened — accurately summarize police encounters. Furthermore, dashboards and body video evidence can enhance police openness and transparency, and officers can use the evidence to refute accusations that a prosecutor’s rights were infringed.
Admitting BWC Footage into Evidence
Evidence laws and legal concerns apply when using video from police officer body cams in a courtroom. Before being accepted as evidence, a witness with an understanding of the facts of the recorded video must attest in order to validate it as such. In the case of body cameras, the footage is generally verified by the testimony of the officer who was driving the car or wearing the camera.
The court will take about three key criteria into account before body camera footage may be presented in court. The court will, for certain reasons, consider whether or not the film of the body camera contains a hearing, a statement made outside of the current trial or hearing, which is used as evidence as to whether anything is as claimed or not. In general, hearsay is not admissible in court, however, there is an exception to the rule. As a result, even if body camera pictures themselves are not being heard, any spoken or nonverbal statements in that band that is made to demonstrate the truth must be subjected to an exemption from hearing to proof. Using the “out of court identification” exemption to the hearsay rule, body camera video of a victim identifying the offender may be accepted.
When it comes to body camera footage, trial judges must also balance its probative value against its possible prejudicial effect on the prisoner. It is possible for even highly probative evidence to be excluded if it adversely affects the defendant—for instance if the evidence leads the jury to make an incorrect decision rather than one based on the actual evidence given. Nevertheless, the court routinely admits body camera footage into evidence since it is admissible to the issues presented in court and not unreasonably detrimental.
Furthermore, lastly, footage may not be allowed under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause if the officer wearing the body camera cannot testify in court. A guilty charger is entitled to interrogate witnesses who testify against them at trial under the confrontation clause. A defendant might claim that an individual should have the chance to cross-examine the policeman who wore the body camera because the film is communicative — much like a policeman writing a written report. The courts have not yet determined the Confrontation Clause.
However, even though body camera recordings might be highly probative, their admission is not assured. Videos that raise hearsay and constitutional issues will continue to be debated in the courts. The footage from the body-worn cameras, on the other hand, is more likely to be allowed into court and used as a device to verify statements and justify police behavior when confronting victims, witnesses, and defendants.
The perceptions of BWCs in each of the eight domains are shown in Figure 1. The perception of the leadership of BWCs and the influence on official conduct is illustrated in Fig. 1. There have been some remarkable findings. The majority (50%), whereas just one-third disapprove or strongly disagree with the application of BWC in their organizations. A majority (50%) take a neutral view when they question whether BWCs would enhance the behavior of the police officials during public contact, while one-third agree or strongly approve. Nearly six out of ten (58.3%) are indifferent if having a BWC would alter the behavior of officers while on duty, although two out of ten (20.9%) agree wholeheartedly with them.
The use of force and police conduct in the media have become a heated subject today as a result of significant police shootings and demands for action against the excessive use of force. All BWCs have been supported for these challenges by the media, the government, social activists, and politicians. There was an increasing interest in this issue among university students due to a dearth of empirical studies on BWCs. The majority of law enforcement leaders supported BWCs. However, they were skeptical about the potential benefits, and there were some variations in opinions of BWCs depending on demographic factors, as well.
The first American police departments in Great Britain were primarily inspired. American police departments have taken from London’s first contemporary police department, criminal and preventative control missions, preventive patrol techniques, and quasi-military design. Based on these three elements, the U.S. police have absorbed additional characteristics of the British police, for example, the concept that officials are restricted. Another English practice adopted in American society is the local monitoring of police agencies. Unlike many other countries, there is no central national law enforcement agency under the English and American systems. In the United States, enforcement is separated between federal, state, and local governments. However, most police organizations are municipal administrations. A characteristic of American police is also decentralized and fragmented law enforcement.
Despite this excitement, the views of BWC law enforcement officials have not been investigated. In the U.S., police agencies use body-wearing cameras that play a significant role in prominent police shootings. On the other hand, the way they are used and made public are very different. According to human rights experts, body-wearing camera films must be disseminated while keeping privacy problems in check. Some argue that movies give just a restricted view of events and can skew the general sense of openness, but those who promote openness and those who do not.
Videos from BWCs and dashboards can corroborate a rendition of the circumstances of detention by a police officer. The state and federal courts have agreed to utilize this kind of footage to substantiate the officer’s testimony. Furthermore, the courts have found that affidavits – collected together with the video recordings of the body and official recollections – correctly sum up police meetings. In addition, dashboards and video recordings can increase the transparency and openness of the police, and officers can utilize evidence to dispute allegations of violation of prosecution rights.
Adegbile, D. P. (2016). Policing through an American prism. Yale LJ, 126, 2222.
Braga, A. A., Coldren, J. R., Sousa, W. H., Rodriguez, D., & Alper, O. (2017). The benefits of body-worn cameras: New findings from a randomized controlled trial at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. CNA Analysis & Solutions.
Hasbrouck, B. (2020). Abolishing racist policing with the Thirteenth Amendment. UCLA Law Review Discourse, 68, 200.
Lum, C., Stoltz, M., Koper, C. S., & Scherer, J. A. (2019). Research on body‐worn cameras: What we know, what we need to know. Criminology & Public Policy, 18(1), 93-118.
Mackey W. J., & Courtney B. J. (2016) Advances in technology and policing: 21st century America. In: Bain A. (eds) Law Enforcement and Technology. Palgrave Pivot. pp. 27-45. Web.
Smykla, J. O., Crow, M. S., Crichlow, V. J., & Snyder, J. A. (2016a). Police body-worn cameras: Perceptions of law enforcement leadership. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 41(3), 424-443.
Smykla, J. O., Crow, M. S., Crichlow, V. J., & Snyder, J. A. (2016b). Support for body-worn cameras and officer behavior domain [Graph]. Support for Body-Worn Cameras and Officer Behavior Domain. Web.
Stevens, D. J. (2017). An introduction to American policing. Jones & Bartlett Learning.