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In Car Police Cameras: Keeping the Public and the Police Safe

The recent events in Ferguson, MO and New York City have put an emphasis on police departments around the country to improve their procedures, including their procedures for internal regulation and investigation. There have been many suggestions put forth by police officials and citizens alike, but one suggestion in particular is gaining some traction: body cameras.

Body cameras, which, as the name suggests, are cameras attached to a police officer’s person, are being put forth as a possible solution to the increasingly contentious issues of police brutality and public transparency. Police departments already use cameras for police vehicles but body cameras, so far, have not been used (with a few exceptions).

Now, things are changing. Because of recent public outcry against police actions in Ferguson and New York (among other places), police departments around the country are warming up to the idea of using body cameras. In fact, the Detroit Police Department is already putting them to use.

Detroit Police Commissioner James Craig announced on January 6th that his department will conduct a second trial-run of body cameras for its officers. Having already conducted a 30-day trial involving 18 police officers, Craig claims that the body cameras are a success and will aid police officers in verifying their actions.

The second trial already has the support of Craig and Detroit’s mayor, Mike Duggan, and is expected to involve at least 30 officers. Detroit, which has the highest murder rate of any city in the U.S., has been going through drastic financial constraints ever since the near-collapse and eventual bailout of Detroit-based auto industries such as Ford and General Motors. Detroit was forced to declare bankruptcy and as a result was compelled to cut considerable government programs and services, including the police department and ambulance services.

Detroit’s financial situation was so dire that last year, Craig suggested that Detroit citizens arm themselves in order to compensate for the city’s limited reduced presence. In a city where one out of 20 homes are likely to be robbed, his suggestion garnered considerable controversy but, in a dismal way, was also somewhat reasonable.

Detroit’s use of body cameras will hopefully be a successful alternative to Craig’s suggestion of self-armament. Law enforcement already have great success with the in-car cop camera, which enables police officers to show the public their procedures, and increases public confidence in local police.

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