Body Cam Footage: An Underused Resource
Body cams have all kinds of practical applications in everyday police work. In this blog, we’ll show you how you can get the most out of your body cam footage. Some of these may really surprise you!
Eyewitness Interviews: Most of us think of body cams as a tool to document critical incidents as they unfold, but they’re extremely useful for interviewing witnesses immediately after an incident. People’s recall degrades the more time passes after a crime or accident. By interviewing them immediately and using the cam to document it, you’ll get more accurate testimony. You’ll also be able to clarify locations, distances, and IDs there at the scene by walking through the event together.
Processing of Accident and Crime Scenes: If you record yourself doing a walk-through of the scene or processing it, you may record details that don’t stand out at the time, but become critical later in light of new information.
Evidence in Domestic Violence Cases: One consistent handicap for officers who investigate domestic violence cases is the reluctance of victims to testify. However, body cams can provide independent documentation of the accused’s behavior. This can be valuable as evidence in its own right. But it can also have the added benefit of helping the victim to be more open and honest with officers. It removes the psychological barrier of not wanting to be the one who gets the abuser “in trouble”, because there’s verification of the accused’s actions and demeanor during the incident.
Demonstrations of Good Police Work: Individual instances of police misconduct can taint the public’s perception of hard-working law enforcement officers. Regular use of body cam footage serves as verification that officers are engaging in an ongoing pattern of professional behavior. In fact, Ron Serpas, the Police Superintendent in New Orleans, stated that after Hurricane Katrina, his officers were pleased to receive body cams for exactly this reason—they wanted the opportunity to demonstrate the good police work they were doing.
Recording Scenario-Based Training: There’s no need to wait to use body cams until you’re actually out in the field. Equip officers and cadets with cams during scenario-based training and you’ve got all the information you need to provide opportunities for detailed critiques and self-evaluations, both as individuals and as a team.
As you can see, just about every aspect of police work can be enhanced by the use of body-worn cameras. Take the time to think outside the box, and put body cams to work for you.