A move by Las Vegas prosecutors to charge a camera-toting officer with using excessive force against a suspected prostitute has thrust the city into uncharted territory as criminal justice experts test the merits of this new technology, reports the Las Vegas Sun. The local police have been experimenting with body-worn cameras for about six months, yet an eight-year veteran of the force has become one of the nation’s first officers to face criminal punishment for bad behavior recorded with a body-worn camera. Experts say more cases like that of Officer Richard Scavone will likely emerge as the tool's popularity grows, and that will help researchers better understand the effect cameras have on interactions between police and the public.
“There are close to 1 million officers in the United States, and some small portion of those police officers are not very good at their job,” said Prof. Michael White of Arizona State University. “That will eventually come out, and with an increasing number of officers wearing cameras, it's going to show who the good officers are and who (aren't).” Elsewhere, at least two other officers have been fired for misconduct related to body cameras: One in Phoenix was videotaped making crass comments while voluntarily wearing a camera, while another in Albuquerque was fired for turning off his device shortly before a fatal police shooting.