NYPD Case Undermines Push for Body Cameras

Eric Garner arrest was captured on video, but it didn't matter, say critics
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2014 12:55 PM CST
NYPD Case Undermines Push for Body Cameras
New York Police Department officer Joshua Jones wears a VieVu body camera on his chest during a news conference Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

President Obama is pushing to make body cameras a standard part of police officers' uniforms in the wake of the Ferguson shooting, but the Eric Garner case seems to undermine that argument, writes Nia-Malika Henderson at the Washington Post. After all, the entire arrest, complete with illegal chokehold, was caught on video, and no indictments resulted. It seems to reinforce the view of critics who see body cameras as a superficial fix to a much deeper problem about police prejudice. "The videotaped death of Garner and the failure to get an indictment will likely be used by activists to push for much more than just cameras," writes Henderson.

But even if the cameras aren't a cure-all, they surely must help, right? Not so fast, writes Uri Friedman at the Atlantic. He talks to some leading researchers and finds that the evidence just isn't there yet. In fact, criminologists are worried about some possible negative results: Cameras, for instance, might discourage people from reporting crimes because they don't want to be recorded; and police officers might eventually find they have to get everything on video in order to get a conviction—what Friedman calls "the legal equivalent of 'pics or it didn't happen.'" Cameras seem to make "logical sense," says one researcher. But "between logical sense and evidence that actually supports it, there's quite a difference." Click for Friedman's full column, or Henderson's full column. (Read more Eric Garner stories.)

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