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EDITORIAL: Police body cameras for accuracy

Barbados Nation

EDITORIAL: Police body cameras for accuracy

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We welcome the statement by a former senior police officer that the time is right for law enforcers to be armed with body cameras.

Oral Reid, now a security professional, believes this measure would help in addressing the issue of accountability of police officers for their actions.

In light of complaints over time against the police, it would not only be timely but indeed a step in the right direction to introduce body cameras for officers whose job it is to protect and serve, while upholding the law.

Given the number of complaints, as well as their nature, body cameras would definitely go a long way in giving a more accurate and detailed account of what occurs at scenes involving police. They would also help to clear up details that would otherwise not have been known, or may have been hazy or misrepresented by parties involved.

The issue of body cameras for police officers has never been more discussed in the public domain given the recent incidents, especially in the United States, where there have been some killings that put the police in the spotlight and caused a public outcry.

After the killing of teen Michael Brown last year in Ferguson, Missouri, which resulted in protests and demonstrations on the streets, many questioned why officer Darren Wilson did not have a body camera.

Then in another incident, also last year, a body camera showed officer Daniel Pantaleo in New York using a chokehold on Eric Garner who was accused of illegally selling single cigarettes and arguing with two officers.

The body camera revealed all the details of what occurred between police and Garner, information that might not have come to light otherwise. After being placed in a chokehold, and complaining that he could not breathe, Garner died.

Police officers cannot be seen as a law unto themselves and, in this age of technology, the call for body cameras must be explored in countries, like Barbados, which do not now have them.

Increased training is also vital for officers who must clearly understand their role in serving the greater good of the public and the need for greater accountability.

The force should welcome any help from technology as officers seek to execute their duties to uphold the law without putting their credibility on the line.