It’s time the police get policed, and some believe body-worn mini-cameras might be the answer. U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin supports the idea, saying: “It would solve a lot of problems. Everybody would know exactly what occurred. It would be easy to review it. The officer would be aware he’s on tape.”
Scheindlin found that the city police deliberately discriminated against people of color when using “Stop and Frisk.” As part of her ruling, she demanded a trial of mini cameras worn by police on their bodies to “provide a contemporaneous, objective record […] allowing for the review of the officer conduct by supervisors and the courts.”
Of course, the order has its detractors. Mayor Bloomberg was cynical about the effectiveness of the cameras. “It would be a nightmare,” he said. “Cameras don’t exactly work that way. Camera on the lapel or the hat of the police officer – he’s turned the right way, he didn’t turn the right way, `my God, he deliberately did it.’”
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, felt it might weigh police down with equipment: “New York City is already saturated with video cameras. Our members are already weighed down with equipment like escape hoods, mace, flashlights, memo books, (expandable police batons) radio, handcuffs and the like. Additional equipment becomes an encumbrance and a safety issue.”
The encumbrance proved to be well worth it in areas where cameras were used as part of a pilot program. In Rialto, California, after a year-long test, researchers claim the number of use-of-force incidents were cut in half and there were fewer complaints about the police.