Americans Overwhelmingly Support Police Body Cameras, Understand They're for Both Sides

Poll also shows people think the 'war on police' is actually real.



Everybody (well, most everybody) wants police officers to start wearing body cameras. That's the outcome of a new poll by Cato/YouGov. A massive, overwhelming 92 percent want police officers to wear body cameras, support that crosses party lines.

And, as Cato pollster Emily Ekins (formerly of Reason) notes, those polled understand that body cameras aren't just about distrusting the police. Body cameras have the potential to protect officers as well:

Americans do not view the police wearing body cameras as exclusively protecting citizens from the police. Instead, 81% believe such a policy will protect both—the police officers who wear them and the citizens who interact with the police—equally. Only 10% expect cameras to protect citizens more and 9% percent expect cameras to protect police officers more. While African-Americans and Hispanics (19%) are about three times as likely as Caucasians (7%) to say cameras will primarily protect citizens, overwhelming shares of all groups still say cameras will protect both members of the public and officers equally. 

Furthermore, more than half of those asked said they'd be willing to pay more in taxes to pay for body cameras, though Republicans were less likely and would prefer for money to be shifted from other spending to cover them.

Other poll responses were a bit more troubling. More than half of the people polled (52 percent) say that police officers should be allowed to view footage of incidents before they make official statements about violent encounters. Ekins notes that the question response seems tied to whether people polled have positive opinions toward the police. Those who have a favorable opinion of police are much more likely to say officers should be allowed to view footage than those who have unfavorable opinions.

And the most disappointing poll result shows that 65 percent of people surveyed believe that there's a "war on police." This response comes even as America sees the second-safest year for police officers in U.S. history. Violence against police is actually significantly down. But then Americans tend to think crime is up even when it's actually on a downward trend.

Read more about the poll here.