Body Cameras: Effective Deterrents of Police Brutality?

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Ashleen_MartinezAshleen Martinez  is a undeclared freshman.

The Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases wreaked havoc nationwide on the relationship between police officers and the public regarding police brutality. One solution that a Grand Jury in New York enacted was that every officer on duty must wear a body camera at all times in order to document how they handle situations involving civilians not complying with officers.

The idea seems reliable until you look back at the Eric Garner case, according to The New Yorker. Evidence for the case included a recording of the police choking Eric Garner despite his cries of “I can’t breathe!” If evidence like this is not helpful in convicting police, then what can we expect to come of these body cameras?

However, The New Yorker notes that these cameras do possess benefits. In Rialto, California and Mesa, Arizona body cameras being used by police officers have had a civilizing effect on police and citizens. Complaints about police officers fell down 88 percent in 2014 where they were tested out first before completely put into place.

This does not seem to be the case in Albuquerque, because on Mar. 16 of last year, police killed James Matthew Boyd, a man suffering with schizophrenia, after he refused to cooperate with police enforcement. The Albuquerque Police Department has one of the highest rates of police shooting in the country and since 2010 there have been 27 shootings of the mentally ill not including the most recent of this month. That is why it was not surprising when footage from a lapel camera saved by Detective Keith Sandy that was supposed to be kept running was inexplicably absent. Thankfully there was another camera mounted on the helmet of Officer Perez, capturing the moment when officers shot, tazed, and released dogs onto James Boyd.

This is a clear example of the inefficiency these cameras have, because officers have a list of possible excuses as to why there isn’t incriminating footage.  When they do have clear footage of brutality against citizens, it is clearly not enough to convict officers immediately, or even at all as seen in the cases of Eric Garner and James Boyd.

I am not generalizing all police officers, because during the San Francisco protests on the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, there were no people killed or injured and it was a peaceful protest. I think that the best solution overall would be to raise the standard when hiring new officers. This goes back to the Albuquerque incident, because according to the Rolling Stone, the mayor of the city Martin Chávez, a centrist Democrat, was running for a third term as mayor on a promise to increase police staffing from 1,000 officers to 1,100. When Chávez won, the department struggled to find enough qualified hires to fulfill his promise, so they settled for hiring “almost qualified” candidates. “Almost qualified” is someone who passed the tests but who ended up failing their psychological exam which revealed them to be borderline psychopaths according to Waking Times. That is not the solution to crime in the city and hiring borderline psychopaths is clearly not safe for the citizens of Albuquerque or any other city.

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