Do body cameras help to keep the police honest?
Virginia Legislators are considering bills that would require police in Virginia to wear body cameras. This seems like a helpful requirement for the police as it will help the police obtain evidence and can provide evidence for the police to use to defend false claims of abuse. The body camera requirement also would hopefully work as a check on police abuse and provide evidence for citizens who claim they were abused by police.
A recent settlement highlights the good that police body cameras can do by providing evidence of abuse by police officers. Chesapeake recently settled a case in which a 70 year old citizen claimed that she was slammed to the floor by officers who were searching for her son. When the woman asked the officers to leave, she was slammed to the floor. The officer charged the woman with kicking him. The video corroborated the woman's version of events and the felony charges against her were not prosecuted. The officer no longer works for the department.
In this case, a citizen was properly awarded a settlement and was no prosecuted on a felony charge when the video corroborated her statement and disproved the offcer's claim. Police body cameras should be required in Virginia for all officers.