It’s quite true that there are legitimate concerns about body cameras for law enforcement officers. As Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says, storing the video takes up a lot of room, and other gear and movement can cut down the pictures filmed by the cameras. And some police officials have worried that the cameras, capturing everything, could represent an invasion of privacy.
But as is the case with all such decisions – in this case, to have the cameras or not have them – the benefits have to be weighed against the negatives. And following a shooting in an area south of downtown Raleigh in which a young man was killed, the benefits of body cameras now win in the weighing in Raleigh. The City Council should approve body cameras, and police should begin wearing them immediately.
In more than one incident in this country in the last few years, body cameras could have solved disputes over what happened. And the cameras can help either side in a dispute. When excessive force by police is claimed by victims or their families, body cameras can help find the truth. And when an officer says he or she did not use improper force, the body camera can be used to back up that officer.
Now, with careful supervision, it’s time to move ahead with body cameras.