Police

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

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

|

Cato

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.

NEXT: New ATF guidance on gun sales is legally meaningless (or else it would be unlawful)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Americans are Overwhelmingly Support Police Body Cameras, Understand They’re for Both Sides Stupid

    ftfy

    1. That’s what I was gonna say.

      If this is true: ” 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 ”

      Then we are all just pissing into the wind even more than I thought. The police have all of the power w/o cameras, so how are cameras gonna help them equally? Fuck.

      1. I’m sure cops get railroaded too. Oh, you don’t agree with the thin blue line? Well, we’ll put you in the extra dicey situations then throw you to the wolves when the press snoops around.

        And even if they’re not being railroaded and are just being treated like us plebs, which is rare but does happen, they deserve to be exonerated the same as any of us.

        The problem is the double standard, and body cameras aren’t going to solve that.

      2. The cameras will save them from the false accusations that happen every day. You know, the war on cops. You’ve got hoards and hoards of people falsely accusing the cops of brutality, just to try to get the cops fired. And it works too. I mean, you never hear about cops with dozens of complaints being on the force. No department would stand for that. Body cameras would protect cops from losing their jobs over false allegations. Duh. I mean, it’s so easy for a cop to get fired, being that they are held to a much higher standard than anyone else.

  2. OT: Gun store owner having a libertarian moment moves out of city to avoid “gun safety” tax.

    The owner of one of the city’s few gun stores says he’s moving his business to Lynnwood to avoid paying Seattle’s new tax on firearms and ammunition sales, even as a legal challenge continues.

    Seattle’s new tax on firearms and ammunition sales took effect Jan.?1, and the owner of one of the city’s few gun stores says he’s moving his business to avoid paying it.

    Sergey Solyanik said Monday he’s close to signing a lease that will allow him to move Precise Shooter from Aurora Avenue North, near Green Lake, to Lynnwood.

    Solyanik and other foes of the tax filed a notice of appeal Monday, after a King County Superior Court judge dismissed their lawsuit against the tax last month.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/se…..f-new-tax/

    1. FYI, this is what diversity gets you:

      When the City Council voted unanimously in August to tax gun sellers $25 per gun and 2 or 5 cents per round of ammunition, Councilmember Tim Burgess said it would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for gun-violence research and prevention.

      1. gun-violence research and prevention

        Is that what they’re calling pubsec pensions now?

    2. So, regulations and taxes that reduce access to gun stores: no Constitutional objection.

      Regulations and taxes that reduce access to abortion: Ermagerd War on da Wimminz!

      Its almost like people don’t have principles, only seething resentments and hatreds that they can’t wait to act on.

      1. See my post just below. I wonder if Robinson would have the same opinion of this were a tax on abortion providers. I somehow doubt he’d be so flippant in dismissing a legal challenge.

    3. Robinson is a fucking liar:

      Robinson sided with the city, which argued taxation is distinct from regulation and said the point of the tax is to raise money ? not to discourage gun sales.

      1. Altogether now, FYTW

      2. Results are a function of intentions, not principles.

  3. , more than half of those asked said they’d be willing to pay more in taxes to pay for body cameras

    Fuck that. Fire some cops.

    1. I agree with this 100%. Why should I have to pay one red cent to merely have my lying eyes discover what we already know. We could save a huge amount of tax dollars by firing one or two serial-lawsuit-generating cops.

  4. …Republicans were less likely and would prefer for money to be shifted from other spending to cover them.

    MRAP maintenance?

  5. Something doesn’t quite add up in the poll – if most people trust the police and believe there’s a war going on against them, why do 91% of them think body cameras are going to protect the public as much or more than they protect the police? Why would the public need to be protected from the police anywhere nearly as much as the police need protecting from the public? The overwhelming majority of cops are brave heroes putting their lives on the line every day combating the forces of evil – aren’t they a thousand times more likely to be harmed by the criminal scum they almost exclusively deal with rather than that one-in-a-million chance that some brave officer accidentally causes harm to some innocent civilian he almost never encounters? It doesn’t make sense.

    1. 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.

      Probably the same thinking that went into the initial adoption of dashcam video. More often than not, dashcam video protected the officer.

      Unfortunately, in modern America, dashcam video gets ignored when it doesn’t protect the officer.

  6. “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.”

    Well, since there’s nothing left to cut…

  7. But sometimes there is some good news about the police.

    “Basically, they were setting up speed traps on I-75 to fund the municipal workings of that village ? which they then stole,” he said. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something off about a village that’s maybe a mile long setting up speed traps to raise money that then is used to fund a bunch of public employees. It just rubs me the wrong way.”

  8. regulations and taxes that reduce access to gun stores: no Constitutional objection.

    I was watching Meet the Press Sunday, and Todd asked somebody why he was opposed to a few simple tests to reduce the likelihood of the “wrong people” getting their mitts on deadly gunz.

    I asked Chucky if he would be okay with literacy tests for voters based on that reasoning, but I guess he couldn’t hear me.

    1. If you proposed a simple tax on abortion providers in Seattle, the funds from which would be used to study the safety of those services, people would go apeshit-unhinged, and I strongly doubt there’d be a judge in the land that wouldn’t see the purpose of the tax for what it was. They wouldn’t get within a thousand miles of dismissing a legal challenge on the basis that… hey, it’s a tax, it only raises revenue!

  9. “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.”

    Even trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, this is absolutetly stupid. That doesn’t mean that a cop in a stressful situation will remember all of the details. But, if his statement differs significantly from the video, then that means he either needs a whole lot more training in taking note of details in stressful situations, learn better strategies to de-escalate situations, or HE IS LYING! (And the smart money is on door #3 a majority of the time).
    But even if he isn’t lying, his judgement is supposed to be based on the facts as he perceives them at the time. If he can’t even get the facts straight, how is he supposed to make good judgement? Body cameras (if used in good faith, HA HA HA!) could be used to help train police in learning from mistakes (both individually and in the aggregate).

    Oh and I agree with others here, fuck your new tax.

  10. But what was the opinion of the millenials surveyed?

  11. The advantage of letting them view the footage first is that they are less likely to make stupid statements that are directly contradicted by the video.

    The disadvantage is that it lets them know if they can get away with LYING about what happened.

    The police state is out of control. Withhold the video until after they make their statements.

  12. Just because people want cops to have body cams, doesn’t mean there’s a “war”.

    With all the issues floating around, why would anyone NOT want video backup?

    I have a dash cam… Am I “at war” with other drivers?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.