Michael Brown's parents have asked that every police officer working the streets in this country wear a body camera. Here are just five reasons why they're right:
1. On-body cameras lower citizen complaints and use of force by police.
Police taking action against Gazi Park protestors June 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.
When police in Rialto, California, wore body cameras, citizen complaints dropped by 88%. Use of force by those officers declined by 59%. Police in Mesa, Arizona, tried them out too, and a one-year study found that in the first 8 months, officers without the cameras had almost 3 times the complaints as officers who wore them. Those who wore them had 40% fewer complaints than they did during the prior year when they weren't wearing cameras.
2. People don't trust the police.
In communities across the U.S., according to a recent poll, 50% of all people believe that law enforcement officers are not held accountable for misconduct. That number rises when you look specifically at a community of color: 64% for Hispanics and 66% for African-Americans.
This same study revealed that 88% of people support recording the police.
3. Police chiefs think body cameras are a good idea.
Police executives interviewed for a study by a nonprofit research group overwhelmingly agreed that body-worn cameras reduce complaints against officers and approve of them for that reason. “We actually encourage our officers to let people know that theyare recording,” said Police Chief Ken Miller of Greensboro, North Carolina. “Why? Because we think that it elevates behavioron both sides of the camera.”
4. And so does the ACLU.
Although the American Civil Liberties Union generally takes a "dim view" of more surveillance of American life, they think police on-body cameras are different because of their potential to check the abuse of power by police officers. In their words:
"When cameras primarily serve the function of allowing public monitoring of the government instead of the other way around, we generally regard that as a good thing. ... Overall, we think they can be a win-win — but only if they are deployed within a framework of strong policies to ensure they protect the public without becoming yet another system for routine surveillance of the public."
5. Too many lives have been lost due to too little accountability. Body cameras would help change that.
Here are just a few names of the hundreds and hundreds of men, many of them young and the majority of them of color, who have recently lost their lives at the hands of police and where no accountability was found:
Tamir Rice, Cleveland, Ohio, November 2014
Ezell Ford, Los Angeles, August 2014
Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014
John Crawford, Beaverford, Ohio, August 2014
Akai Gurley, Brooklyn, New York, November 2014
Levar Jones, Columbia, South Carolina, November 2014
Eric Garner, Staten Island, New York, July 2014
Trayvon Martin, Sanford, Florida, February 2012
Kimani Gary, Brooklyn, New York, March 2013
Kendrec McDade, Pasadena, California, March 2012
Timothy Russell, Cleveland, Ohio, December 2012
Ervin Jefferson, Atlanta, Georgia, March 2012
Amadou Diallo, New York City, February 1999
and many others...