Police Body Cams in the Future

Many law enforcement agencies are now utilizing body cameras for their officers.  Although now commonly used, body cameras are still a somewhat controversial topic.  Body cameras can serve as effective tools for both law enforcement and individuals by providing an accurate recording of interactions between the public and the police.  However, there are limits to what body cameras can do, including limited storage, limited video quality, and limited view of the surroundings.  As the technology of body cameras improves and law enforcement has the opportunity to better implement their use, new benefits and problems will almost certainly arise.

In the fast-moving area of artificial intelligence, body cameras are moving beyond just a recording of interactions from a police officer’s point of view.  Body cameras are currently able or will soon be able to provide live feeds and live video analytics, like facial recognition.  Algorithms can assist in identifying individuals, detecting weapons, or redacting information for public release.  For example, with live feeds and algorithms used to point out important parts of videos, officers can more quickly understand and respond to large-scale events like terrorist attacks or mass shootings.  This technology can provide crucial information to law enforcement.

In addition to the improving technology being helpful to law enforcement, the availability of body camera footage to criminal defendants is also crucial in many cases.  The use of body cameras adds to accountability for questionable actions, as seen in almost daily cases of officer-involved shootings, allegations of police brutality, or even level of impairment in a DUI stop.

However, using body cameras for general surveillance purposes invokes privacy concerns and questions about the purpose of police evidence collection.   There is not a significant amount of regulation surrounding the use of artificial intelligence in evidence gathering, which may leave it ripe for abuse.  For example, if the systems become advanced enough that a face of an individual who passed an officer is now tagged into law enforcement’s system, there could now be serious concerns about the interference to an individual’s right to privacy.

Law enforcement agencies have also noted problems with requests for copies of the videos and managing the data from body cam footage.  Maintenance of the footage and responding to requests can add significant amounts of money and manpower.  Rural agencies, like most of those in North Dakota, have some difficulty with the implementation of body cameras for these reasons.

If you have been involved in a criminal case where officers utilized body cameras and need assistance or have concerns about your privacy, contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss by calling 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.

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