If you’ve watched local news anywhere in the United States as of late, you know that in some cases, law enforcement officials have been shown in a less than favorable light. Fairly or unfairly, the actions of those in law enforcement have left some everyday Americans very distrusting of the way law enforcement does its job and those in law enforcement aren’t exactly feeling comfortable either. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that in a survey of 8,000 police officers, 93% of them indicated they have become concerned about the dangers of the job.
So what can be done to keep officers safe while also keeping them accountable? Body cameras are increasingly becoming a popular option. In fact, a recent study found that police officers wearing body cams received 93% fewer complaints from the public. Another option is police car video systems, popularly known as dash cameras or dash cams.
If you’ve ever watched a show like COPS, you’ve likely seen dash cam footage where officers talk to a person they’ve pulled over and perhaps even arrested them. You may have marveled at all the details that dash cam footage can provide, but it can also keep officers save and help to restore public trust. Here are five ways that police car video systems can be beneficial to police departments:
- Officer safety: The use of police car video systems help police officers maintain their integrity and also keeps officers safe. The use of dash cams has allowed police departments to view and to analyze situations whereas before it was simply an officer’s word against a subject in question. Dash cams provide undeniable and indisputable evidence of what happens, especially in complex situations like a shootout, a standoff or even an attempt to resist arrest.
With dash cams in use, officers are more likely to be aware of the fact they are being filmed and will therefore take time to access their approach to a situation rather than reacting blindly to what’s going on.
- Less liability: Dash cams and body cameras can be expensive to install initially, but they pay off in the long run. How is that possible? In tense and complex situations, law enforcement officials can go to the tape, to borrow a phrase from sports. With police car video systems, officers are able to capture footage in real-time, giving them concrete evidence, which can help avoid potential lawsuits. This can help both corroborate any complaints an everyday citizen might have or clear up any untruths about a situation. In any case, it presents a clear picture of the truth.
- Transparency: Another advantage of police car video systems is that they can strengthen the trust between law enforcement and the local community. How is that? Courts often request dash cam footage to use as evidence and if everyday citizens are aware of dash cam use, it can help them better understand the types of situations officers put themselves in to protect their communities. Among average citizens, if they know their local officers are being filmed, they won’t hide anything. Dash cams allow police officers to tell the backstory to a situation, rather than just having an outcome and leaving folks to guess at what happened.
- Improved conviction rates: An officer’s job doesn’t involve trying to convict as many people as possible. That being said, dash cams have led to an increase in conviction rates in some areas, with the increased use of video footage. If it is used in court, juries like the chance to review video footage to get their own look at an officer’s version of events.
- Training: Another benefit of dash cameras is that they record interactions and situations that can be used to train both new recruits and veteran officers. Dash cam footage can be used to demonstrate both good and bad practices on the job and it can also be an effective teaching tool since it can broken down frame by frame to enhance perspective and overall knowledge.
Ultimately, an officer’s job is to protect ordinary citizens and police car video systems make that possible. They improve transparency, keep officers save and helps strengthen the public’s trust of law enforcement.