Body cameras on police officers have become a hot topic in the aftermath of the volatile relationship that was 2015 law enforcement-civilian interactions. After a year-long program was implemented to test the technology, the Long Beach City Council approved the body camera motion in a unanimous decision.
Starting sometime this March, Long Beach police officers will be wearing body cameras whenever they patrol the city’s western and central neighborhoods, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram.
“Historically, that is one of the busiest parts of town where (use-of-force instances, complaints and injuries) are typically higher,” said Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna.
Police officials will randomly distribute the $210,000 worth of equipment the city’s contract with body camera supplier Texas’s Dell Inc. is for to officers patrolling the western division. Only about 25% of police departments surveyed in one 2013 report by the Police Executive Research Forum were found to be using body cameras. That number has certainly increased today.
While the benefits of these devices have been largely disputed between both sides, the devices are becoming more accepted as an advantage for keeping both sides safe and accountable.
One study by researchers from the University of Cambridge in 2014 found that when officers wore cameras and told those whom they contacted that encounters would be recorded, the technology had the power to deter all parties involved from escalating situations. In another study, complaints against officers assigned to wear cameras fell by a staggering 87%.
Luna also said that when it comes to releasing footage taken from officers’ body cams, the California Public Records Act would be adhered to.
Some might argue the burden to buy these devices is too much to place on the taxpayers, but in the end they tend to make for safer, more efficient, and productive environment for everyone involved.