Dear Next President,
Congratulations on winning the election. You showed great dedication during the election process to be able to influence Americans to vote for you. Your intelligence and willingness to help our country aided in your victory, and I know you will make an amazing president. As you are most certainly aware, there is a major problem with the trust and respect for law enforcement individuals by many citizens in our country. There have been many claims of police brutality when officers made contact with citizens. This problem (the claims of police brutality) needs to be fixed, and in order for you to do so here are some suggestions.
For this problem is to be solved, the way police are viewed by the public needs to be improved. To influence citizens to respect police again, our country needs to draft and implement a federal law requiring all police agencies to utilize body worn recording devices. This would help to improve police performance and citizen behavior through the technique of surveillance.
Police body cameras should be included into every police department’s standard issued equipment and worn by every officer. The body cameras would be an effective way to monitor the officer’s daily actions. In Rasmussen College’s article about police body cameras, posted January 1, 2016, it states the pros of police body cameras; “While mounted police cameras can’t pick up on absolutely everything an officer sees, the video obtained from these cameras can help paint a much clearer picture of what happened during an incident.” In addition to being able to record an incident that occurred with an officer, the video then could be used as evidence against the officer or against the criminal depending on the situation. Also, the cameras would help to improve officer behavior because the officers will know that they are being watched, and their actions are reviewed, so they will perform more efficiently while on the job. After the incident, the officer has the ability to view (not edit) the video. This can help in two ways. First, the officer will be able to write his/her report more thoroughly because he/she can review exactly what happen and not base their report from memory. Second, the officer will be able to go back and see any places where they can improve their performance. Equally important is the fact that the cameras do not impede on the police officer’s ability to do his/her job. The body cameras are small, compact, and basically weightless, according to Rasmussen College, “the camera and battery pack weigh less than a quarter of a pound.”
Not only will these cameras be important for police officers, they will help with citizen interaction. Rasmussen College states,“as a general rule of thumb, people tend to behave better when they know they’re being watched.” The officers are required to inform the people they are wearing a recording device, and because everyone in the incident knows they are being recorded, this forces them to think before they act. This can help to keep peace during a situation between a police officer and a citizen. eInvestigator’s article on police body cameras and their effect on police misconduct states that in the case that an officer might abuse his/her authority, the video captured “may provide valuable evidence in obtaining accurate witness and victim statements.” The cameras will help to keep all Americans equal and keep citizens from becoming unjustly victimized. Rasmussen College provides “a study performed by the Rialto, CA police department that found that the cameras led to an 87.5 percent decrease in officer complaints as well as a 59 percent reduction in use of force over the course of a year.” Since both parties know they are being recorded, they act more respectively. The officer surveys the situation and chooses the best option. When the officer does this, the citizen is more receptive of said decision and is more likely to cooperate with the officer.
While this option is very likely to help to increase trust in law enforcement, it comes at a cost. In order to help all departments to obtain this equipment, it needs to be a federal law for police officers to wear body cameras. Next, for the departments that have a tighter budget than others, there needs to be a federal grant in order for the department to obtain the equipment. The drawback of having such equipment, according to the article by eInvestigator, means having “the cost of the device itself, ongoing maintenance, and costs associated with storing and maintaining the video footage and recorded data that is collected. In addition, costs would be associated with cataloging and retrieving footage in response to subpoenas, investigations and public information requests.” The device would need to be taken care of and maintained in an acceptable condition, so that it will function when needed.
While the devices come with a cost, as everything in this world does, the advantages outweigh the faults. These body-worn recording devices would help to reduce the amount of complaints about police brutality because it causes both officers and citizens to think before acting during police interactions. It will also help to protect civilians and police officers rights as United States citizens.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Respectfully, Dalton B.