Body-worn video cameras are quickly becoming standard-issue for police, especially at departments in the process of reform, NPR reports. In New Orleans, the troubled police department is now requiring almost all officers to wear the cameras. The city’s police department has a dark history of corruption, racism and brutality. These days, it is trying to rebuild the public’s trust, which is where the body cameras come in. The department brass want the public to notice the cameras.
“It’s just a win-win,” says Ronal Serpas, New Orleans’ superintendent of police. He’s trying to convince a federal court that the police department has reformed enough to get out from under a federal consent decree. The cameras are one way of demonstrating the department’s spirit of transparency. ” It’ll give supervisors an opportunity to say something along the lines of, ‘You know, Mrs. Smith, our officers did not treat your son poorly, and we actually have evidence to that now.’ Or, ‘You’re right, we did not do a good job.’ What happens if an officer stops recording — say, right before Mrs. Smith’s son gets roughed up? The chief says that kind of “selective recording” won’t be tolerated.