On Monday, President Barack Obama called for $75 million to match funds put up by states to purchase body worn cameras for police officers. The same day, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake vetoed a bill that would have initiated a police body-camera program in Baltimore. Still, she promised that “there will be body cameras in Baltimore.” She only objects to a “hastily implemented” program, and apparently a group has already been formed to examine the issue and get back to her in the coming months.
We could certainly use more research on the pros and cons of police officers recording every interaction with the public. Privacy concerns, admissibility, and the practical issue of storing the footage could all use some consideration. On the other hand, early evidence suggests that body camera programs can precipitously reduce complaints against officers and use-of-force incidents. And given Baltimore’s recently quantified police-brutality problem, there is some urgency here.
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