Last month’s deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., accelerated interest in the use of officer body cameras to help identify potential misconduct, but 75 percent of law enforcement agencies were not using the technology as of last summer, says a new Justice Department-funded study reported by USA Today. The survey of 254 law enforcement agencies found that nearly one-third of the agencies that did deploy the cameras had no written policies governing their use.
Body camera technology has been emerging in the past decade, while dashboard surveillance cameras have been around longer. “The recent emergence of body-worn cameras has already had an impact on policing, and this impact will only increase as more agencies adopt this technology,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum, which wrote the report. The report says some law enforcement authorities are crediting the strategy with improving accountability. The report said the decision to use the technology “should not be entered into lightly.” “Once an agency goes down the road of deploying body-worn cameras and once the public comes to expect the availability of video records it will become increasingly difficult to have second thoughts or to scale back a…camera program,” he said.