Police departments across the country have begun implementing body cameras. Many of the local law enforcement agencies here in West Georgia have begin to outfit each of their officers with high definition body cams on their officers.
In light of this, I recently heard someone remark that the implementation of these cameras would lead to more arrests and make my job as a criminal defense attorney more difficult because, "now everything will be on video." I simply could not disagree anymore. Until this point in history, following a civilian's encounter with police, it was the law enforcement officer's word versus the defendant's. That put defendant's in an incredibly difficult position, especially somewhere like West Georgia where many people accept law enforcement's statements as the gospel truth for a variety of reasons. The same is true for law enforcement. In the past, if a law enforcement officer was accused of wrong-doing, then they simply had to rely on their word.
The disturbing video below is an example of why body cams need to be on every officer's body in the future. Video does not lie. There is no way to twist the video into a situation where this young man deserved to be assaulted. The same will ring true in other situations.
Traffic stops, face-to-face encounters with officers, officers searching vehicles, and execution of search warrants should all be captured on body cameras. This will make the litigation of motions to suppress more clear cut, will help minimize police impropriety, will protect suspects' safety, and will protect law enforcement when they find themselves in difficult situations. Body cams are well worth the investment and all local governments should be eager to spend the money on them to protect their civilian constituents as well as their boys in blue.