Police Chief Announces Second Trial of Body Cameras
|In recent months, body cameras have become a popular topic across the United States. Due to highly publicized reports of police brutality across the country, from Ferguson, MO to Dallas, TX, these devices have emerged as a way to promote accountability among law enforcement professionals. Supporters even argue that the cameras would give officers the ability to review and critique their performance in dangerous situations, allowing them to improve their safety techniques. Now, the Detroit Police Department appears to be putting these theories to the test.In an interview with the Detroit News on Tuesday, January 6, Police Chief James Craig said that volunteers from the department would be taking body cameras on a second test run. In April, 18 police officers and two supervisors took part in a 30-day pilot program. Craig called the first trial a success and announced that 30 officers would be taking part in a new trial. The test run is reportedly being planned by Mayor Mike Duggan in conjunction with the Detroit Police Department.
“The mayor is committed, as I am committed, to using them to enhance officer safety and have a positive impact on mitigating allegations of misconduct,” Craig told The Detroit News.”Body cameras can also enhance transparency with the community.”
A representative for Mayor Duggan confirmed that he is interested in testing how body cameras would affect Detroit. However, the spokesman said that the test program is still in the early stages. Funding options are also reportedly being explored.
The first trial program demonstrated at least one way body cameras might be used to help Detroit’s police officers. According to department officials, one of the officers who volunteered for the program was involved in an incident in which force was used to restrain a citizen. The volunteer’s body camera was later used to prove that the officer’s actions were justified.
If instituted, body cameras could have a significant impact on the city’s crime levels: studies show that while crime rates in Detroit have dropped by as much as 16% over the course of 2014, the area is still ranked as one of the most violent urban environments in the U.S. Body cameras could become a vital tool, helping police collect evidence that could be used to prosecute a litany of offenses.