Police Body Cameras Becoming Standard; Could Help Prosecution, Defense


When Des Moines school resource officer Rodrigo Santizo describes an incident, he relies on more than his own recollection and witness statements: He also has video from a small camera clipped onto his shirt, says the Des Moines Register. “It's good for us, good for the public, good for the students,” said Santizo. “There's a peace of mind that everything's being done properly, especially when you're in a high school dealing with people's children.” Increasingly, law enforcement agencies throughout Iowa are equipping officers with body cameras. They can provide incontrovertible evidence in court, help resolve complaints against officers and improve police behavior.

The body cameras will likely become standard equipment for law enforcement officers, much like dashboard cameras in patrol vehicles already have. But as the cameras' use becomes more widespread, some say concerns about privacy could surface. This week, the Washington, D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum hosted a conference on the subject. In Iowa, Drake University law Prof. Robert Rigg said the recordings can make sure statements from witnesses or suspects aren't taken out of context and show a judge or jurors the situation in which those statements occurred. “Cameras, if utilized correctly, work to benefit both sides and probably make for better policing,” he said. “Officers know there's going to be a record. For individuals, they'll know the same thing. I see advantages to both the prosecution and defense.”

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