The body camera policing has gained popularity in the fight against police brutality. When Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot an African-American in the year 2014, many pieces of the shooting remained unclear. Twitter users posted the dead victims photo on the platform, and there was a public outcry about the shooting. Though the jury dropped the charges against the officer, it has never been clear what happened. However, it is agreeable that the public blames the officer for the shooting. It has become a norm for the public to favor the victim whenever a brutality case against an officer becomes public knowledge. This has negatively affected the reputation of the police department and initiated the use of body cameras.
Just as the public is using social media to affect the law enforcement negatively, the police department can revive its reputation by posting the body camera footages on social media. The law prohibits the public from accessing the body camera footages, and in cases of police brutality, the social media opinions are usually in favor of the victims. It is always viewed that the reason why the public cannot access the footages is that they are incriminating and the police department is covering it up. Releasing the footages on social media would be a first step in showing the public that the police department has nothing to hide. Failure to release the footages can be viewed as a cover-up by the social media users; which has become a prolific outlet for viral news.
Assuming in most of the cases the victim forces the police officers to use force, the public through the social media will have access to such information through the footages being released. The public assesses a victim under police brutality, and without a clear picture of the events preceding the brutal event, the public ends up favoring the victim. In any scenario, either the victim or the officer is accountable. However, without the footage, it is hard to determine who is accountable. However, if the police department releases the footage, the public can see who is accountable, and the department can then take action against the offender (Baum, 2015). Such actions will help the public to perceive the accountability and transparency of the law enforcement agency.
The major aim of introducing the body cameras was to avert the increasing discontent among the social media users by increasing transparency in law enforcement. However, there are concerns that releasing the footage to the public is against the privacy of both the officer and the victim. This has only increased the discontent among the social media users accusing the police department of not being transparent. To regain a good reputation, the law enforcement bodies should worry less about the privacy of the parties involved. A scenario involving police brutality should be treated like a crime where the public has the right to know what happened. The law enforcement bodies should not compromise the truth for privacy.
Social media is the major medium utilized by the public in displaying their discontent with law enforcement. The law enforcement bodies should also take advantage of this and release the body camera footages through the same medium (Baum, 2015). The footages can shed light on the facts involved in the case, and the social media users can make an informed decision before blaming the officers. This can increase the accountability of law enforcement officers and improve transparency. In addition, when the police officers know that the footages are to be released to the public, they will exercise self-control and become more humane. Besides, the victims will also portray self-control in their interactions with the law enforcement officers.
Baum, E. (2015, June 30). 5 Pros and Cons of Police Wearing Body Cameras. Retrieved November 29, 2016, from http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/police-body-cameras-pros-and-cons/2015/06/30/id/652871/
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