Are Police Body Cameras Changing the Legal Playing Field?

Posted on in Criminal Law

arlington-heights-criminal-defense-lawyerImages from video cameras are often used to help identify criminal suspects. However, more and more law enforcement agencies are beginning to install cameras, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes due to public pressure, in vehicles and on the bodies of sworn officers. This video footage is often used by criminal defense attorneys to help their clients fight against criminal charges

Pros and Cons of the Police Body Camera

The common belief is that the presence of video cameras, whether on a law enforcement vehicle dashboard or on the vest of a police officer, would reduce complaints of police misconduct or abuse. Furthermore, it is expected that video recordings of arrests would provide courts with details on the interactions between police and the citizens they encounter. However, different sides continue debating the pros and cons of police using body cameras.

Some of the “Pros” include:

  • Protection against false claims of abuse of power, resisting arrest or other crimes.
  • Increased transparency and trust between police and the public.
  • Provides courts with an indisputable source of evidence.
  • Aides in obtaining accurate statements by both victims and witnesses.

Among the “Cons” are:

  • Some cameras still require the wearer to activate it when exiting their vehicle. Failing to do so renders the tool ineffective.
  • Technical glitches may interfere with proper recording.
  • Both police and citizen groups have raised privacy concerns.
  • Some citizens expressed concern about being recorded for fear they may face reprisals should the video be made public.

Officer-Involved Shootings

The issue of body cameras is often paramount when a case  that involves the shooting of a suspect by an officer arises. Lately, some officers were forced to change their official incident reports after viewing footage from body cameras, and other jurisdictions are permitting officers to view body camera footage prior to submitting their official account of an incident. Both policies have raised concerns with public advocacy groups regarding proper use of the footage.

Retain the Counsel of a Knowledgeable Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

When you find yourself under suspicion or facing criminal prosecution, the best strategy to employ is the hiring of a credible attorney with years of criminal defense experience. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law, is a respected criminal defense attorney who reviews every detail of your case to ensure an aggressive and thorough defense strategy. Set up a free consultation with an experienced Arlington Heights criminal defense lawyer today when you call 847-253-4700.