In what seems to be a response to the unarmed killing of a teenager in
Missouri this past week, the Cincinnati police department has announced
that officers in District 3 will be
equipping their uniforms with personal cameras.
District 3 officers were chosen for this "pilot program" due
to the high crime activity in district 3 and the ample opportunities to
assess the camera's effectiveness. The hope is that these cameras
will substantially increase the safety of both the officers and the citizens
with whom the officers interact.
Currently the only means to see what goes on between an officer and a citizen
is the dash cam that is located in the police cruiser. However, these
cameras provide very little evidence of what officers see in dangerous
situations and in the every day duties that take place outside of the
vehicle. The department has expressed hope that this will increase the
transparency between the department and the public.
Weighing Concerns over Cameras and the Right to Privacy
Some questions and concerns over the camera's use do arise however.
While the American Civil Liberties Union has given their full support
of the cameras, some citizens may feel that their individual rights to
privacy are being infringed. The department asserts that there is not
"a reasonable expectation of privacy" when a citizen interacts
with an officer.
But what if a situation arises in which the citizen, who is merely talking
with an officer as a concerned citizen and not as a suspect, reveals confidential
information that is later used against the citizen? This could lead to
a public that is wary of police interaction and afraid of what might be
recorded and shown to a third party.
In light of these possible privacy concerns, the overall value of having
an officer equipped with the device would surely be beneficial. Studies
have shown that when a person is being recorded, their behavior improves.
Putting the police department under the scrutiny of the public eye surely
will help officers who may have abused their power.
Take for instance the case of Michael Brown, the unarmed Missouri teen
who was shot dead by police. The police claim Mr. Brown attempted to grab
the officer's gun, while the witness claims that his friend was attempting
to surrender. Instances like these are unfortunate, and do nothing but
further divide a community which may already be cautious of those who
are supposed to protect them. Had a camera been used the day that Mr.
Brown was killed, there would be no discord between the police and the
public and the guilty party could be brought to justice.
At Bleile & Dawson, our
Cincinnati criminal defense lawyers have defended clients against criminal charges for a total of more than
20 years. If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime in the State
of Ohio or the Commonwealth of Kentucky we are ready to help you fight
Call our firm today to discuss your options in a
completely confidential consultation.