The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that cops and citizens alike are showing support for the video cameras being used by police officers. Oakland police are just one of the agencies now testing cameras to see how they are received and the benefits they may have.
Most believe the cameras put both the officers and the citizens on their best behavior, both parties realizing the effects the recording could have in court or in investigations. Complaints of police misconduct are hoped to decline, as are instances of aggressive or combative citizens.
While the police aren’t required by law to tell you when they are recording, many do simply because of the positive impact it can have on the interaction. In a memo to the city council, Oakland Captain Ed Tracey said “Officers and citizens both appear to behave more appropriately when they know they are being recorded.”
Although the videos cannot be edited or deleted by officers, they do have the option of turning the device off. An argument could be made that an officer more prone to misconduct in the first place will be far more likely to stop recording rather than change their behavior, though that remains to be seen.
As citizens are recorded more and more in their daily life—from surveillance cameras in stores to red light cameras and now officer-mounted cameras, it’s not a huge leap to wonder when all of our activities will be on film. Sure, this may increase police accountability—but at what cost?
Currently the city of Oakland is just testing 15 cameras. Soon, they hope to have more like 350. San Jose, Union City, Brentwood, and Campbell are just a few of the other communities equipping their officers with recording devices and the number of jurisdictions jumping on the bandwagon will only increase.
Video footage is just one type of evidence that can be entered at court. Whether it supports the prosecution’s case against you or your case in defense of the charges depends on what was recorded. Did the officer follow procedure and were your rights protected at every stage of the process? While a camera can help answer this, cameras are still only present at a small number of police interactions.
Determining if your rights have been violated and if that could potentially lead to the criminal charges against you being dropped is the job of your attorney. Whether you are facing charges of DUI, possession of drugs, or even reckless driving, your rights are important.
If you are facing criminal charges and want to know what you’re up against, contact us today to speak to an attorney about your case.