Body cameras have been credited with not only uncovering police abuse but generally improving the conduct of officers in relation to the public. Recently in Las Vegas, controversial shootings have led to the demand of such tiny cameras. However, the Protective Association representing Las Vegas police has announced that it pushed through an agreement with Sheriff Doug Gillespie to make the wearing of such cameras optional for officers — an option unlikely to be taken by most police officers.
We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue.
While courts have ruled against these arrests, police unions appear to be moving to prevent the use of new technology that creates a verifiable record of police and citizen conduct alike. Such cameras can help clear police officers in such controversies, but they are clearly viewed as a threat by many officers and union officials.
There is no reason why such public reforms should be blocked in union agreements. Indeed, with the right of public filming established over police opposition, such films offer a closer and often more accurate record of controversial arrests.