Eye on Policing: How Body Cameras Change Law Enforcement
National Law Enforcement Museum's panel discussion examines the efficacy of a new tool that will impact police and the citizens they serve
Washington, DC—Last evening, the National Law Enforcement Museum presented the 2nd installment of its Conversations on Law Enforcement panel discussion series, generously sponsored by Target®. Held at the U.S. Navy Memorial’s Burke Theatre, guests enjoyed a fascinating program that detailed various perspectives of the use of this new technology as a tool for law enforcement officers.
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd, kicked off the event by welcoming about 100 guests in attendance. He introduced the panel moderator, Lindsay Miller Goodison, a Senior Research Associate for the Police Executive Research Forum; and panelists Marcus Jones, Third District Commander for the Montgomery County (MD) Police Department; Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project; Lieutenant Bryan Grenon of the Seattle (WA) Police Department; and Dr. Michael White, professor of the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Associate Director of ASU's Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, who detailed their experiences with researching, testing and implementation of body-worn cameras.
|L to R: Lt. Bryan Grenon, Cmdr. Marcus Jones, Lindsay Miller
Goodison, Jay Stanley, Craig W. Floyd, Dr. Michael White.
Each panelist began by sharing their involvement with body worn cameras, touching on issues of pilot program implementation, getting community input, and creating and analyzing policies for body camera programs. Panelists also explained how they worked to get communities on board with the idea of body cameras. Lt. Grenon shared how, in Seattle, they provided room in their policy for officers to be able to flag certain elements of video in the metadata that might not be appropriate for public disclosure. Commander Jones told of a debate that came up in Montgomery County about whether or not it was appropriate for School Resource Officers to use cameras when engaging with students, and that privacy concerns of domestic violence and sexual assault victims was a common concern. The question of disclosure emerged as one of the primary concerns and challenges of body camera programs. Mr. Stanley explained what the ACLU sees as the ideal: “We don’t want to see extremes on either end of the spectrum…we don’t think that’s the right balance between transparency and disclosure.” According to Mr. Stanley, certain types of videos should be flagged and made publicly available, but routine video need not be held in perpetuity.
Another issue that was addressed was public requests for large amounts of video and the difficulties those requests create for police departments, both legally, and in terms of efficiency.
And finally, when addressing the question of pushback from patrol officers about using cameras, Commander Jones shared what he would tell his officers, “Everybody has a video on, so why not have your own camera telling your story.” He explained that video footage can help fill gaps that often exist in versions of events that are shown in the news media. Dr. White pointed out that body worn cameras have actually been used and researched for several years, but with recent police shootings, more citizens have considered body cameras to be a clear way to improve police behavior, while in reality, the effect of body camera usage is complicated. The general consensus among panelists was that this is a very complex issue, and that body worn camera programs will most likely benefit their communities if implemented thoughtfully and with robust policies in place.
The Museum’s Conversations on Law Enforcement program began last year and aim to provide discussions on contemporary issues related to law enforcement. Video recordings and photos from the events are available to view on the Museum's website.
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About the National Law Enforcement Museum
A project of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the 57,000-square-foot National Law Enforcement Museum will be located adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square. The Museum will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech interactive exhibits, comprehensive collection of artifacts, extensive resources for research, and diverse educational programming. The Memorial Fund’s mission is to tell the story of American law enforcement and make it safer for those who serve. For more information about the National Law Enforcement Museum, visit www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org.