Should Boston Police Wear Body Cameras?

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This week there are several public community meetings discussing a pilot program for Boston Police to wear body cameras. The topic is tense as residents, elected officials and Boston Police are all offering their opinions.

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A Boston Police pilot program starting in May or June will have 100 police officers wear body cameras. But due to collective bargaining agreements, the individual police will have to volunteer to wear the cameras.

Earlier this month Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said that he supports the pilot program, but doesn't think body cameras are needed for police. Mayor Marty Walsh has said he supports the pilot program.

District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell, chairwoman of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, is hosting three community meetings this week along with the Social Justice Task Force. The first meeting was on Monday night in Roslindale, the second one was Tuesday night in Charlestown and the third in Dorchester (First Parish Church, 6-8 pm). Campbell plans to hold a formal meeting at City Hall on the topic, too.

Due to the pilot program being voluntary some residents at the Roslindale meeting voiced concerns that the police who should be wearing cameras, ones with more complaints against them, will not volunteer to wear the cameras. referenced one study in Orlando, Florida that had 46 officers wear cameras and 43 didn't, and the study found that officers who wore cameras had fewer use of force incidents and fewer serious complaints.

An interesting article by the New York Times "Police Body Cameras: What Do You See?" showed how body cameras could convey one thing, but an entirely different thing happened; It may look like an officer assaulted someone or tackled someone from a body camera, but a camera farther away shows someone may have tripped or the officer and individual were just dancing.