Body and Car Cameras for Police Work

The American police often interact with civilians in a wide range of contexts, such as pulling someone over and asking to see their license and possibly writing them a ticket. Other confrontations may be with a potentially armed criminal, and may result in violence. Other interactions may fall in between. And whatever the case, today’s police are more often making use of police car video cameras, or car cams, on the job. This is a recorder camera on their police cruiser’s dashboard to observe all actions taking place in front of it, and many police officers are now using police car video camera technology. Similarly, body cams are being work on a police officer’s person for a similar purpose. How often are police today using these police car video cameras or body cameras, and why?

More Camera Installation

American police forces are rapidly increasing their use of these cameras, and statistics are being kept to see how many police officers and police stations are making use of them. As of March 2015 for a fairly recent example, around one in three of the 18,000 American police departments were using these cameras, but this number may be growing. As of the year 2000, about 3,400 state police and highway patrol cruisers (11% of them all) had police car video cameras in u7se, but by now it is believed that 72% of them are now using these police car video cameras. Similar trends may be taking place for police body cameras as well.

Many police officers and civilians have been interviewed and surveyed about the use of these police cameras, and many of them agree that such cameras are likely to reduce rates of violent incidents during police-civilian interactions on either party’s part. These cameras may provide clear evidence of poor behavior or violence on either or both party’s part, and this can be used as evidence in a court of law, too. This has the dual effect of encouraging civilians to be calm and cooperative with the police, and gives the police incentive to not use excessive or unnecessary force during their work. Many surveyed police say that they have become more concerned about dangers of the job, and 93% of 8,000 police officers surveyed by the New Research Center felt this way. A similar study, also done by the Pew Research Center, found that 52% of police department administrators felt that police body cameras would make the public more likely to cooperate with officers on the job. Overall, 66% of officers and 93% of civilians have said in surveys (by the Pew Research Center) that they favor the use of such body cameras by police to record all of their interactions with civilians.

Camera Models

It is clear why the police may use police car video cameras and body cameras, and that many police officers and civilians alike favor their use for similar reasons. How might these cameras be used, and what are the advantages of each type? A police car video camera has the advantage of a wide field of view, and it may depict both the police officer and any party with whom that officer is interacting, giving a clear and full view of what is happening. This camera may be protected by the vehicle’s windshield, making it less likely to be knocked askew or damaged or lost. But it is possible for a person to leave the camera’s field of view, so an officer may augment it with a body camera as well. This camera offers a more limited field of view, restricted to wherever the officer is facing. But the trade-off here is that the officer may move and face any direction, so that they can focus their body camera on whatever they need to. A dash cam may offer a wide field of view, and if a party leaves its view, the body camera may then show what is happening. This may be helpful when examining a complex case of a police officer interacting with a civilian, where the parties are moving around and taking many actions. This may prove very helpful in a court of law where every detail must be found and considered by the court.