The Importance of Having Vehicle Camera Systems in Local Police Agency Cars
The recent police shooting in Ferguson, MO has pinned the general public against local police agencies as the two sides are in disagreement about whether or not the officer’s actions were justified. Citizens all over the country, but especially local residents of Ferguson, were particularly outraged when local police released a surveillance video showing the victim, Mike Brown, robbing a convenience store, claiming that it was an attempt to defame his character.
Amid all of the outrage over the release of this footage, however, there is another, more important video missing. This is the video of what actually happened, and it is not being kept hidden by anyone, but rather it doesn’t exist. This is because the police car that was driven by the officer accused in the shooting was not equipped with a vehicle camera system. There have been many similar situations in which there is a dispute over the events that took place during an arrest and there is no police car video to back up either side of the story.
In car cameras have a number of advantages, including being able to identify and properly handle police misconduct, increasing police safety and providing hard evidence for court cases. While they are currently installed in over 70% of state and highway police vehicles, local police stations are not as well equipped.
Footage from police car video cameras provides an accurate depiction of the events that take place during police interactions, yet there is a surprising lack of in car camera systems in local police agency cars across the nation. This is not necessarily because they are deemed unnecessary, but rather because there is a lack of funding to support the purchase and installation of vehicle camera systems. Many police agencies have planned to install cameras in all of their cars but were unable to because the funds were not available to do so.