The use of body cameras on Birmingham, Al., police has led to a dramatic drop in citizen complaints against officers, as well as a decline in use of force incidents, in the past two months, reports Al.com. The Birmingham Police Department in June began to roll out the 319 cameras precinct by precinct. In July and August, use of force incidents dropped 34 percent and citizens’ complaints dropped 70 percent. “It’s pretty incredible the numbers we are seeing,” said police Capt. William Brewer, who heads up the technology division. “It’s a small sample but its right in line with what we’re seeing across the country. It has a chilling effect, and that’s what we wanted to see.”
The use of police body cameras entered the national discussion last year, especially after the police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. After that, the Birmingham City Council approved a five-year $889,000 contract with TASER International for police body cameras and a companion digital management system. The city will pay the company $238,000 for the first year of service. Birmingham police Chief A.C. Roper wants to add 300 more cameras, with the goal of outfitting every officer with the device. In July, there were 21 use of force incidents, down from 27 in July 2014. There were 15 in August, down from 28 during August last year. In all, the total number of use of force incidents dropped from 55 to 36 over the same time period in 2014 for a 34 percent decline.