Police in Ferguson, Mo., are now wearing body cameras. The Christian Science Monitor says reports suggest that interest in the technology among police departments has spiked since unrest swept the St. Louis suburb last month. The shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a Ferguson officer Aug. 9 and the sometimes-violent protests that followed raised deep questions about race and justice. Nationwide, the trend toward wearable cameras is in its infancy and shows both the promise of the technology and its shortcomings. Data suggest complaints and violent encounters can decline significantly, but police can maintain a “blue wall of silence” to prevent public access to the videos.
The cameras can be useful in improving policing, but should not be viewed as a cure-all. “These cameras are viewed as the ultimate silver bullet, but they’re not,” Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They’re another great tool in policing, but they have limitations just like everything else.” Currently, about 1,000 of the 18,000 police departments nationwide are using wearable cameras, says MSNBC.