No evidence that cameras on cops are effective [Letter]

September 27, 2014

Regarding your editorial "Cops and cameras" (Sept. 24), in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., many city councils and police departments across the country are considering or outfitting their officers with body cameras.

Requiring officers to wear body cameras makes sense. It will make them think twice before resorting to more aggressive tactics in dealing with citizens during street stops and calls for service. And since some interactions between police and the public may lead to charges of officer misconduct, the video feed may help police department internal affairs investigators, judges and juries make more informed decisions regarding an appropriate disposition.

But there are also many questions about the use of the devices, including privacy concerns for both citizens and police officers and the possibility that the technology might be disabled during a physical confrontation.

More importantly, no empirical or scholarly evidence indicates that body cameras achieve their supporters' objectives. Just because other jurisdictions are using body cameras in hopes they might improve police-community relations doesn't mean they would be effective in improving police accountability or minimizing the use of excessive force in Baltimore.

Until all the evidence is in, requiring law enforcement to wear body cameras could only lead to unnecessary expenditures of taxpayer money and serve to frustrate officers.

Jeffrey Ian Ross, Baltimore

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