A picture is worth 1000 words, but a video is worth millions, and could even be worth lives. On-officer cameras are not some new space-age technology, but cops using them is very new.
Cops in Rialto, California have implemented this technology and have had some heartening results. They've seen a 60% reduction in use of force instances and an 88% reduction in officer complaints!
In September of last year the Los Angeles Police Commission set a goal of having every police officer wear a lapel camera and fund it privately.
The department raised about $1.3 million, which will cover the cost of the cameras — including maintenance, usage, storage and technology upgrades — for about 2.5 years.
It took only 58 days to raise the funds.
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"I thought it would take 9 months," Steve Soboroff, president of the L.A. Police Commission, told KPCC.
The money came both from individual donors including Steven Speilberg, Casey Wasserman and Jeffrey Katzenberg as well as organizations like Occidental Petroleum and the Dodgers.
"On-body cameras and the continued addition of in-car cameras are going to be an absolute transformative thing for both sides of the camera from a law enforcement perspective," Soboroff said. "And I just can't wait. Because when you get a real record of what's happening it makes investigating a lot simpler. More importantly, I believe it's going to change behavior. I think when people know they're being recorded, their actions may be different. and the 'he said-she said, let me lawyer up and let me do this and do that' — I hope that those days get over quickly."
This is pretty good news as filming cops is one of the peoples' best defenses against tyranny, if the cops film themselves too, it will most assuredly help.
The potential for abuse with the cameras exists, however. Police officers could potentially turn on and off the cameras to try and show only one side of a story.
Also the acquittal of two Fullerton, California police officers in the beating death of Kelly Thomas paints a disheartening picture as their brutality was caught on film and it did not change the unjust outcome.