There has been a push in recent years for police to be armed with an unexpected weapon: body cameras. These cameras, supporters argue, will help protect police against allegations of brutality while also better ensuring that the public they serve can trust these officers. After all, the argument goes, their actions are being recorded.
Or are they?
Two recent stories covered by the media delve into whether or not body cameras translate to increased accountability for police officers. Unfortunately, these stories provide support for the contention that these tools do not help better ensure the safety of the general public.
Story #1: Were the cameras even rolling? Whether or not body cameras are on at all times, during a stop or during other certain situations will depend on the protocol of the unit. However, a story out of Baltimore highlights how some officers abuse the capabilities of these devices.
The incident involves the stop of a man charged with drug and gun possession. During the arrest, officers were supposed to have their body cameras on and recording. It appeared that none of the four arresting officers had their cameras on. However, new recordings have emerged that show an officer stating "it's off" in reference to his body camera. This appears to support allegations that officers are intentionally tampering with the evidence produced by these devices.
Story #2: When cameras are recording, are they actually recording the altercation? A second story out of Arizona follows an ongoing case involving a young woman who was shot five times at point-blank range. The recording device of the officer firing the weapon was off at the time of the altercation. Six other officers were nearby. Recordings from three officers are not pointed at the scene, a fourth's is "oddly blurred" and the fifth and sixth "turned up nothing at all."
What can those facing criminal charges learn from these stories? It is important to note that many law enforcement officers enter the profession for the right reasons. They are noble servants of the public, working to keep the communities they serve safe.
Unfortunately, like in any profession, not everyone that serves does so with good intentions. Similarly, even those with good intentions can make mistakes. These mistakes can result in false charges against the innocent.
If you believe that the charges you are facing are based on false allegations, it is important to seek legal counsel. An attorney will review the entire case, including how the evidence was gathered, and look for mistakes that could be used to build a case to preserve your innocence.