Police Department is tasked with maintaining law and order in society. The police try to use their full powers under the stipulations of the law to arrest criminals and apprehend wrongdoers for trying them before the court. Members of the public have often been reported to record police actions in their line of work and share the information across social media networks. The public and police officers have often displayed different reactions during the recording of these police actions. Despite the implementation of legislation such as the First Amendment that requires the police to film their interaction with citizens, issues surrounding the recording of police work continue to arise. The use of police cameras is still significant in promoting ethical behaviors among the law-enforcing officers and ensures that they not only adhere to the set regulations but also take a proper approach in dealing with different criminal activities.
Public Protection andthe First Amendment
The First Amendment outlines several guidelines on how recording police activity is protected and includes other provisions on the right to take videos/photographs. When present in a public place, an individual has the right to capture desired images/videos of objects in plain view, including federal buildings, transport facilities, and police officers. (Wasserman 543). However, the Amendment forbids the public from recording the police establishment and activities secretly to avoid the commission of acts done with evil intentions as well as those that are genuine mistakes on the part of the concerned individual. Additionally, the public should be polite and cooperative with the police officers when confronted to minimize irritants with the latter as they may react aggressively. Moreover, unless the police have a warrant, the public is not supposed to share the recordings with the police, especially when the record reveals acts of police misconduct, brutality, or hostility. Citizens should maintain a reasonable distance from the police officers to avoid possible interference with the latter’s work. The distance should be enough to allow officers to perform their duties, and citizens should master the technology used by them to prevent the destruction of the recording (Muth and Jack 23). An example of an aggressive posture is where the police use a lot of force in arresting a criminal including shooting while a non-aggressive behavior entails trying to calm an armed criminal before executing any action.
Effects of Recording on Police
Through video and audio recordings, the police are held responsible for unwarranted actions taken by them in the course of their duties. They are held accountable through reviewing the recording on how they handle different criminal activities and comparing them with what ought to have been done. Additionally, the records can be used as future references, evidence in the court of law, or as an aid to exonerate a police officer/member of the public against the crimes leveled against them (Culhane et al. 252). Moreover, the public recordings serve as a supplement to the police dashboard cameras, which may not capture every action when the police are on duty due to distance or height barriers. The public recordings have also assisted the police in giving more accurate and detailed reports on the reasons for taking actions or the decisions made when performing their tasks. These police reports are used for decision-making in the police department, especially during rank promotions or conferment of awards to officers. Public recordings have also assisted in educating the public on the action required to be taken by them when approached by the police during arrests (White et al. 690). Such public records due to their possibility of getting circulated on social media have prompted the police to be cautious about violating human rights. Although incidences of defamation of police officers can still occur, yet the portrayal to the public as their being open with high integrity helps them gain public trust.
Culhane, Scott E., John H. Boman IV, and Kimberly Schweitzer. “Public Perceptions of the Justifiability of Police Shootings: The Role of Body Cameras in a Pre-and Post-Ferguson Experiment.” Police Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 3 2016, pp. 251-74.
Muth, Karl T., and Nancy Jack. “Watching the Watchers: Monitoring Police Performance as Public Servants.” Nat’l Law. Guild Rev., vol. 73, 2016, p. 23.
Wasserman, Howard M. “Recording of and by Police: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” J. Gender Race & Just., vol. 20, 2017, p. 543.
White, Michael D., Natalie Todak, and Janne E. Gaub. “Assessing Citizen Perceptions of Body-Worn Cameras after Encounters with Police.” Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 40, no .4, 2017, pp. 689-703.