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Won't police officers resist wearing video cameras? Initially, perhaps. But most patrol officers are now becoming comfortable with dashboard cameras in their cruisers. A 2004 study for the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that in cases where police misconduct was alleged, in-car video evidence exonerated officers 93 percent of the time.
The same report further noted that dashboard cameras enhanced officer safety, improved agency accountability, reduced liability, simplified incident review, enhanced new recruit training, improved community perceptions, helped advance case resolution, and enhanced officer performance and professionalism. In fact, the Atlanta police officer in the Witherspoon dashcam video comes off as quite professional. He consistently refers to Witherspoon as "ma'am" and keeps a level tone of voice despite some fairly hilarious provocation.
Body-worn cameras will clearly augment all of those objectives. And it will accomplish an important democratic task as well: turning the tables on the functionaries of the surveillance state. It gives citizens better protection against police misconduct and against violations of their constitutional rights. And it protects good cops against unfair accusations, too.
Requiring police to wear video cameras should be universally adopted sooner rather than later.