NM Case Shows What Happens When Police Don’t Turn Body Cameras On


What happens if police officers don't turn their body cameras on? The Wall Street Journal asks that question, citing the case of Albuquerque, N.M., officer Jeremy Dear, who was fired this week for allegedly not following an order to record and upload all contacts with citizens. Dear was involved in a high-profile shooting of a 19-year-old woman in April, in which no footage was recovered from his lapel camera. Dear’s attorney, Thomas Grover, saying Dear attempted to activate the camera during the incident, remarked, “He's pretty much the first casualty in the issue of this emerging technology.”

Model policies for the new technology recommend discipline for officers who fail to turn on their cameras when required, said criminologist Michael White of Arizona State University who wrote a Justice Department report on body cameras. White believes officers will turn them on routinely if departments adopt clear policies. He said other police departments will be forced to grapple with similar cases where cameras aren't turned on or don't function. White reviewed police departments that use body cameras. In Rialto, Ca., the number of citizen complaints against police dropped from 24 to 3 in the first year that the patrol officers began wearing cameras in 2012. Use-of-force incidents plummeted from 61 to 25 during the period.

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