Every day, more police departments are incorporating body cameras to record day-to-day activities. Here in New York, up to 20,000 police officers are recording their interactions with New Yorkers. Just one service that provides cloud storage for body camera footage reports that they have already uploaded 4 million hours worth of footage.
Who controls this footage? According to an article from NPR, it is the police officers and police departments that control and manage the footage. This begs the question: Is it fair?
Why Are Police Controlling Their Own Accountability Tool?
In the article, NPR points out that one of the key purposes of police body cameras is accountability. However, if police departments are in control, they can simply hide the bad footage and only release the footage that makes them look good.
Worse yet, one critic of the current process poses that it allows police departments the ability to create databases using all the footage recorded, use facial recognition software and engage in other privacy-threatening forms of predictive policing.
One solution being posed is that the footage be taken out of the hands of law enforcement and managed by a third-party.
How Body Camera Footage Works In The Courtroom
An issue that is frequently overlooked in these discussions is the evolution of how body camera footage is being used in the courtroom. When law enforcement is in control of footage, how likely are they to provide footage that works against them? What can a criminal defendant do when footage appears to be incriminating? These are important questions. What is clear is that there will continue to be major changes.