Dozens of police officers in Oakland, Calif., have been punished for failing to switch on their body cameras over the last two years, reported ArsTechnica.
According to recently released public records, the Oakland Police Department disciplined police officers on 24 different occasions because the officers either disabled or didn’t turn on their body cameras. The disciplinary actions were anywhere from written warnings to terminations.
Last November, an officer was fired for not turning on his camera, and another officer resigned after “improperly removing the camera from his or her uniform.” Oakland police officers have been wearing body cameras since 2010 and are required to turn on the cameras during arrests, detentions, and when serving warrants.
ArsTechnica noted that the advent of police body cameras is still quite new, which means there isn’t much substantial data, other than the actual effectiveness of using the cameras. It’s still unknown whether or not police officers are complying with body camera policies properly. So far, the Oakland police records are just about the only information of that type available.
However, ever since the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both of whom were killed by overzealous police officers, there has been a renewed outcry for how the police are policed. The president’s administration proposed a $75 million expansion to purchase 50,000 body cameras for police officers all around the country.
Body cameras aren’t going to be a fix-all solution. Believing so is naive and extremely short-sighted. However, enforcing police to wear body cameras to monitor their actions in the line of duty will help decrease on-the-job incidents that would have otherwise been escalated by overly aggressive cops.
They just have to actually activate them to get results, and police should be allowed no discretion in deciding when the camera goes on and off.