As Use Of Police Body Cameras Expand, “The Goal Is Total Transparency”


Police body cameras are the latest technological buzz among law enforcement in Michigan and across the nation, says the Detroit Free Press. Lowell, Mi., which equipped its officers with body cams about a year ago, is one of the few police departments in Michigan that use them regularly, but many agencies have tested or are testing them. Lowell Detective Gordy Lauren, who does patrol duty two days a week, likes wearing the body cams and says such technology may have avoided the angry fallout in Ferguson, Mo. The shooting was not caught on camera, leaving investigators to sort through divergent accounts from the officer who said he was under attack and bystanders who say 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up in the air when he was shot.

Lauren can write reports that match the video from the body cam, making cases more solid and allowing prosecutors and defense attorneys essentially to be at the scene. The video also can clear up allegations of police misconduct. “I think it’s a natural evolution from the dash cam,” said Terry Jungel of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. “This way, you see what the officer experiences, right or wrong. I think the goal is total transparency. It gives the public a little more (information) on consequences of actions, why we got to where we got.” The American Civil Liberties Union supports police body cameras but feels strongly there should be policies to protect unwarranted invasion of privacy of the officers and the public, said the ACLU’s Michael Steinberg.

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