As all of you are no doubt aware, the introduction of body-worn cameras (BWCs) into law enforcement changed the profession entirely. Many will argue that they are not necessary and are only used as a “big brother” tool to second-guess an officer’s actions. Others contend that BWCs keep officers honest. Additionally, many officers welcome BWCs because it shows that, most of the time, their actions are justified under law and policy.
Take into consideration last week’s module concerning eyewitness accounts. It’s clear and undisputed that eyewitness accounts are not perfect. However, a police officer is a trained, experienced observer whose job it is to both observe accurately and report truthfully. This is why an officer’s eyewitness testimony on the stand is given more credibility than that of a lay witness (and this is included in jury instructions, as well). Now – enter the BWC. Is it not also an eyewitness to an incident, albeit an electronic one? If the officer testifies to a set of observations, but the BWC portrays it somewhat differently, is the officer lying? Is s/he no longer a credible witness? Is it a matter of perspective? And if so, is it the officer’s or the BWC’s perspective that is more credible? These are fundamental questions to evidence and testimony that are still not completely answered in law enforcement and research.
As far as “criminal justice information systems”, BWCs are now a primary tool in policing and provide a trove of information and evidence. Regardless of your career path in the criminal justice field, this topic is well worth exploring. Your assignment is to write a minimum of a 6-page paper on the topic of BWCs (formatting details below). In this paper, you will be addressing the topics listed hereafter in relation to BWCs. Also, for part of the paper, you are going to have to find an officer-involved shooting (OIS) video online in which the officer was wearing a BWC (likely YouTube, but other sources are certainly fine). You will be addressing the following topics as a comprehensive paper:
Topics to Address in Paper:
History of Devices Recording Police Activity (in-car cameras, BWCs, others)
Findings of BWC Research
Potential Benefits of BWCs in Policing
Potential Drawbacks of BWCs in Policing
Summary of OIS Incident with BWC (to include a description of the circumstances surrounding the incident, statements the officers made about what happened, and what the BWC showed – it could match or be different than the officer’s account!)
Relationship of Research/Benefits/Drawbacks (items #3-5) to the OIS (i.e., how did what you find in those items relate to the incident?)
Summary & Conclusion
Format of Paper:
Minimum of 6 pages (excluding the Reference Pge)
Double-spaced, 12-type font
Ensure all topics listed above are addressed
Cite a minimum of six (6) sources in your paper using APA style (note: I am not the “APA-police” so I am not going to nit-pick if your APA style isn’t perfect; however, you have to make a valid attempt at it!). This does not include your citation for the OIS video. Therefore, seven (7) total citations.
Separate reference page
Like all of my assignments, I expect you to have informed, thoughtful, and well-written work worthy of a class of this level. So far you have all been doing well with that but I am going to be more particular on these papers than “discussion posts”. Therefore, do your best work as a reflection of you!