Police departments and communities are looking to body cameras to curb police misconduct and rebuild community trust. But whether that technology, which can record what the police see, will be used to benefit the public remains to be seen.
The District has become a microcosm of the debate over the use of body cameras. As the Metropolitan Police Department’s experiment with them has passed the six-month mark, questions about who should have access to the video are sparking disagreement, as well as unexpected alliances among civil liberties groups, police unions, defense lawyers, prosecutors and victims’ advocates. Clashes have erupted over the proper balance of transparency, privacy and law enforcement. We want to ensure the cameras’ core purposes — transparency and accountability — are not destroyed as these issues are resolved.