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Should all Florida police officers wear body cameras?

Imagine for a moment that you are pulled over by a police officer late at night in Orange County or elsewhere in Florida and told by that officer that he or she has probable cause to suspect you have been driving under the influence of alcohol.

In many such cases, a question-and-answer game begins at that point, as well as the administration of a series of field sobriety tests aimed at gauging alcohol impairment. For many Florida residents, such an encounter ends with a trip to a local jail and subsequent ignominies attached to a drunk driving arrest, as well as serious other exactions encompassing fines, possible employment-related difficulties, community service, hiked insurance premiums and more.

Granted that dashboard-mounted video cams are a commonplace in Florida police cars, the same certainly cannot be said about body-worn cameras that can comprehensively record an encounter between a law enforcement agent and a motorist, including conversation exchanged.

If you were that motorist cited above, would you prefer to see that approaching police officer wearing a body-mounted camera?

Reportedly, many people would, as evidenced by statistics relating to comprehensive camera use by one police department. Although that department is located in California, the findings relating to camera use by officers there can certainly be extrapolated to Florida and elsewhere, commanding similar relevance.

Here’s the bottom-line takeaway from the analysis in California regarding body-worn cameras: Civilian complaints regarding officers fall by an eye--popping percent when such devices are employed, with a corresponding drop in the use of force by police also being noted.

Given such a finding, coupled with vendor competition that is driving camera prices down, it would hardly seem surprising to see police departments across the country beginning a routine deployment of such cameras.

If that becomes the norm, you might be staring into a camera lens and attached microphone the next time you try to make eye contact with a police officer.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “What happens when police officers wear body cameras,” Christopher Mims, Aug. 18, 2014

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