WTVM 12/12/14 Editorial: Police and body cameras

(WTVM) - After the recent deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, who both died at the hands of police officers, some facts about those deadly encounters remain heated topics of debate.

That debate has led many to call for police officers to be equipped with body cameras, including President Obama.

Locally, body cameras are already worn by some Columbus police officers and Muscogee County Sherriff's deputies.

Phenix City has just announced a plan to equip their officers with the cameras and security officers at Columbus State have worn body cameras for years.

That puts our area's law enforcement community ahead of many police departments in the country.

Of course, body cameras won't cure every perception or misperception about police response.

But a study done by the Rialto, California Police Department in 2013 showed some amazing and exciting results of using cameras as a law enforcement tool.

With only half of Rialto's 54 uniformed patrol officers wearing cameras, the department saw an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints filed against officers, compared to the 12 months before the study.

Even more encouraging are reports that during the study, Rialto's police officers used force nearly 60 percent less often - in 25 instances, compared with 61.

We hope our local police departments see the same kind of positive results from using body cameras.

It might prove that technology can lessen the chance for emotional reactions to a high profile case and instead keep us focused on the facts.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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