The public opinion on body worn camera has been requested from time to time, the law enforcement agencies simply have tried finding out what they think about the body worn camera. Beyond privacy breaching and times not allowed to have recorder on. There are other opinions the generally public have concerning the use of these cameras.
When findings were made and respondents that were interviewed said that they would support the use of body worn cameras. There was also report that most respondent said that body worn cameras would improve evidences, transparency, quality of treatment, police behavior, police lawfulness, compliance from both citizen and police behavior. It was also said that it would reduce complaint and also corruptions that has been a problem. It is also believed that the exposure of the public to the body camera has improved not just citizens’ perception of body worn camera including quality of treatment, police behavior, police lawfulness and also corruption.
Body worn cameras have been deployed by police in countries like United States, Australia and the European countries.
Effect of the Body worn cameras
Self-awareness: this entails being conscious that you are being watched, this is also known as Objective self-awareness. Awareness generally increases when an individual perceives they are being watched. Behavior modification occurs and there is a switch to a socially acceptable behavior, by this it is proven that anything that makes one focus on their self generally increases self-awareness. Body worn camera is one of the many ways of increasing civilian’s self-awareness and making them conscious their actions are being watched and recorded. This a method to make them restrain from doing wrong and offending the law.
Findings from study has shown that 87% agree that Body worn cameras will improve police officers behavior, and that 70% also agree that the cameras would improve how citizens would behave on their encounter with the police. The researchers also concluded that those with bad view of the police will actually be the most supportive of the body worn camera, since they feel it would finally be a way to even the odds and boost transparency. But it came as a surprise when reverse was the case, citizens who loved the police were actually those in support of the body worn cameras, those who felt they were doing a good job were those who supported the most. Another result which wasn’t foreseen was that those citizens that were most concern about crime around weren’t inclined to seeing the benefit the Body worn camera was bringing. But the researchers also said; the feeling has to do with their indirect relationship, and how the police had treated issues in the past. It overall had to do with the police performance, fear of crime and the thought that the police are not doing a good job. Hence they believe even with the body camera they still wouldn’t do better.
In palm beach county, resident were interviewed and research gathered from them, the residents there actually believe that the body worn cameras would actually increase safety for officers and residents alike making their community even safer than how it was without the camera. The residents believe the body worn camera would:
- Improve officer and residents behavior
- Increase the legitimacy of the police
- Improve the quality of evidence collected
Residents here also believe that the use of this camera, would make it less likely for an officer to use for during encounters with citizens.
While research was also conducted in the west of Palm Beach, the residents there had a very different opinion as regarding police-community encounters, police effectiveness and also issues having to do with crime and safety. The residents here reported less favor in their perception on honesty and fairness of the local police. They believe that the police do not deal properly with important matters well, this was also said to be a city problem. It was also reported that on their street, the local police stop people for no good enough reason and usually apply force when resistance is shown. It was noted that these occurrences were quite common in the west and that the body worn cameras were introduced to combat problems like this.
There has been suggestions over the years that the reason there has been reduction in complaints against the police force has been majorly due to body worn cameras. It has been said to generate what is often referred to as “the civilizing effect”. It majorly governs what was explained earlier that; when people are aware they are being watched they tend to put on their best behaviors. It is to be noted that the inception of Body worn cameras may decrease citizens’ complaint since citizens are bound to file less of frivolous cases and also not make false complaints.
Police legitimacy can be improved through the use of body worn cameras. “Police legitimacy is defined as a psychological property of an authority, institution or even social arrangement that leads those connected to it to believe that it is appropriate, proper and just” (Tyler, 1990 p. 375). It has been seen to be a very important since it has the ability to shape citizens attitude and behavior. Over time a lot of people have been seen to comply with the police, this is because many know they carry some very sophisticated intelligence tools and would to avoid having problems with evidences that would be raised against them. The body worn camera is amongst this many tools that has made citizens comply with the police investigation and relationship.
Critics have pointed a wide range of issues that have complex effects involving citizen privacy, access to private records and the recording of vulnerable population i.e children. These are problems that critics have pointed to as the issues arising from the use of body worn cameras in the society. As a result of this the law enforcement agencies provide strict training and also have rules and policies concerning the use of the cameras to avoid running into problems while trying to solve one