Crime

D.C. Police Increase Number Of Body Cameras

| by Ray Brown

Washington D.C. police doubled the number of body camera-equipped cops, bringing its total number to 2,600.

The body camera increase is part of a $5 million pilot program that has enabled the Metropolitan Police Department to have the highest number of body cameras in the nation, according to the Washington Post.

"I think the rollout of these cameras does improve our legitimacy. It's something the community has asked for," said Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham, according to WRC-TV.

Newsham said the increase in body cameras is something the officers themselves wanted.

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“You all wanted to wear these body cameras,” he said. “You wanted everyone to see what you do.”

Demand for body cameras has increased since the 2014 Ferguson protests brought renewed attention to questionable shootings by police officers.

However, body cameras do not always provide clear evidence. In September, 31-year-old Terrence Sterling was shot to death by Washington D.C. police officer Brian Trainer, who said he forgot to turn on his body camera before firing his gun.

Sterling's family alleged that Trainer “shot and killed Mr. Sterling from the safety of a police vehicle despite the fact that Mr. Sterling was unarmed and posed no danger” to Trainer or anyone else, according to the Washington Post.

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The family filed a civil lawsuit against the District and police department for $50 million.

Generally, body cameras have been known to have a positive effect by lowering the number of police complaints.

“Individual officers become more accountable, and modify their behaviour accordingly, while the more disingenuous complaints from the public fall by the wayside once footage is likely to reveal them as frivolous,” said British criminologist Barak Ariel, in a Cambridge University press release. “The cameras create an equilibrium between the account of the officer and the account of the suspect about the same event – increasing accountability on both sides.”

Sources: Washington Post (2), WRC-TV, Cambridge University/ Photo Credit: North Charleston/Flickr

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