Civil Rights Groups Suggest Principles For Police Body Cameras


Body cameras used by law-enforcement agencies are starting to hit snags, The Atlantic reports. In Fort Worth, two police officers shot a man—and, despite both wearing body cameras, the incident wasn't captured on film. The department says both cameras were turned off. When an experienced San Diego officer shot an unarmed 31-year-old man, a body camera didn't capture the footage, either—despite the city owning more than 600 of the devices. In California, a bill to guarantee protections for citizens captured on body-camera footage has been amended under pressure from local law enforcement to have nearly the exact opposite affect.

Today, 34 civil rights groups, including the ACLU, NAACP, and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, announced principles that they hope will guide national and local policy on body cameras. Broadly, they say that city and state rules about body cams must be developed with the public and then available to the public. They ask for “limitations” on what kinds of technology can be used to sift through the footage, like facial-recognition algorithms. They contend that police officers should submit their own incident reports before getting to view body-camera footage, thus preserving the “independent evidentiary value” of both.

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