The global dashboard camera market was valued at around $1.4 billion back in 2013, but since that time police departments all over the country have been aggressively purchasing new types of cameras. While police body cameras get more attention in the media, that’s just one of the ways police departments are investing in increased accountability.
This rings especially true in Ferguson, Missouri, the location of the controversial shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. In 2014, Brown was killed after a confrontation with a police officer. Brown was a suspect in an assault and robbery that occurred in a nearby convenience store earlier that day.
Brown’s death was one of the most high-profile instances of an unarmed black man being shot by the police, and the event caused an uproar not only in Ferguson but around the nation. Soon after the shooting, a federal mandate required all Ferguson police officers to not only utilize dashboard cameras but to wear body cameras while on duty.
Officer-involved shootings are just one source of mistrust between police departments and communities of color. Each year, legal experts estimate that 10,000 people in the United States are wrongfully convicted of a serious crime each year. For all these reasons and more, the people of Ferguson have been lobbying to make these body cameras a permanent fixture in their community.
And on April 4, the people of Ferguson voted on an amendment that requires police officers to wear cameras on patrol. Supporters of police body cameras believe that they will protect both the cop and the victim in case a shooting like Brown’s ever happens again.
The ballot passed, and Ferguson activists are celebrating the move as a major win.
However, there are certain rules for the police officers actually wearing the cameras. Per St. Louis Public Radio, this includes:
- The camera must be turned on at the start of every shift.
- Cams can be turned off when the officer is using a restroom, but the officer must make a voice recording as to why they are turning off the camera.
- Undercover cops will not be required to wear body cams.
- If the camera footage is to be used for evidence, the cop will not be able to view it before giving an official statement.
- The officer is required to upload their footage to the county’s secure server by the end of their shift, no exceptions.
The amendment also mandates that the state of Missouri keep every police officer’s footage on file for a minimum of two years.
These new policies will be put in place effective immediately.