How Effective will Body Cameras Actually Be?

After many experiments with police-equipped body cameras, cities have been trying to quickly upgrade their police force. But how exactly do these videos turn out? Although body cameras will give more information, there will always be disputes over the footage. In a New York Times article, Timothy Williams, James Thomas, Samuel Jacoby and Damien Cave analyze a series of videos made by Seth W Stoughton, a law professor at University of South Carolina, proving how police body cameras will have “deceptive intensity.” The series of videos within the article shows multiple perspectives other than body cameras in fake scenarios. Williams, Thomas, Jacoby, and Cave prove that video cameras can a great step forward, but may not be as revolutionary as the public is expecting.

Anti-police brutality organizations and cities are supporting body cameras but the authors show facts from Stoughton’s study to show that the cameras will still cause controversy. The writers use logos by including Stoughton’s video series and statistics from surveys of his video series showing how body camera footage will actually look and it works to make the reader feel less supportive of cameras. This is a very factual article, but is cited well and the authors speak very highly of Stoughton. Stoughton was once a police officer himself, making the reader trust this credible source. The authors are speaking to anybody curious about the possible beneficial uses for body cameras, then shows that body cameras may not live up to expectations.

One of the main points mentioned is that people will believe what they want to believe. The study goes to show that “our interpretation of video is just as subject to cognitive biases as our interpretation of things we see live” (Stoughton). The authors want us to understand that people will always disagree about what happens during the police footage. They say that the cameras are greatly affected by “herky jerky movements” that create confusion. From this, the authors argue that the footage will still cause disputes and they prove this with Stoughton’s video series. In the series, it is clear to see that it is “just a tool… there is a limited value to what it can do.” The writers include this sentence because they want the reader to think about how they should be used and if body cameras will even be that useful.

Unlike most articles, this one brings up the idea that police-worn body cameras will not be as helpful as everybody expects. Williams, Thomas, Jacoby, and Cave do support body cameras, but want the audience to realize that there will still be disputes and body cameras are the solution to all of our problems. This is why police officers should be trained to use these and not issued to all the officers as another tool. The body cameras can be used efficiently if they are used correctly. The authors use Stoughton’s research as proof that many opinions will be biased and that cameras are not the key to the problem, but will still help with police brutality. (509)

Williams, Timothy, James Thomas, Samuel Jacoby, and Damien Cave. “Police Body Cameras: What Do You See?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.