As police work is increasingly captured on camera and scrutinized by the public, many law enforcement agencies are asking the same question: Why not control the cameras ourselves?, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Around the Bay Area, police departments are studying what would be a profound cultural shift in law enforcement: outfitting all cops with wearable cameras to record stops, arrests, sobriety tests and interviews.
The practice, meant to gather evidence and provide a video record if misconduct allegations arise, is a step forward from dashboard cameras that have become common in cruisers and audio recorders that many officers strap to their belts. Police departments in several cities have bought batches of the body cameras. Officials in many other cities see the trend as unstoppable. “In the future, officers will not hit the streets without a camera,” said Sgt. Ronnie Lopez of the San Jose Police Department, where officers tested a set of 18 over-the-ear cameras made by Taser International of Scottsdale, Az., the same company that makes the electronic shock guns. “We live in a YouTube society where people have the ability to record us,” Lopez said. “We firmly believe officers do the right things for the right reasons, and this is a way to show our side.” The cameras may present a rare opportunity for accord between police commanders and police watchdogs.