Experts advise that all interactions should be "recorded in every context, and then made public when there is a criminal complaint.” (See Turvey et al. (2018). False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports of Crime. Academic Press, p.302.)
An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Senior Policy Analyst states that body cams have "the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse.” (See: Jay Stanley (ACLU Senior Policy Analyst) “Police Body-Mounted Cameras: With Right Policies in Place, a Win for All,” www.ACLU.org, March 2015, pp. 1-9.)
BODY CAMERAS EXONERATE FALSELY ACCUSED OFFICERS AND HAVE OTHER BENEFITS
A 2014 study of the impact of police body cameras by Arizona State University faculty found that in Phoenix "officer worn body cameras were found to be beneficial to the officers and the court in a number of ways."
Body cameras increased officer productivity, reduced the number of complaints against officers, decreased the number of founded complaints against them, and increased the effectiveness with which the courts processed criminal cases.
The ability of body cameras to protect officers from wrongful allegations is shown by an incident in May 2018 when a Texas state trooper’s body camera footage proved that a sexual assault allegation against him by an African-American woman was false.
Similarly, in 2018 a police officer in Louisville, Kentucky, was falsely accused of sexual assault by a woman, but his body camera footage disproved her allegation.
The woman made the false allegation against the officer after she was arrested and charged with second-degree disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, menacing and third-degree assault of a police officer.
Numerous other cases where body cams and dash cams have protected officers from false allegations are described by Law Enforcement Today and include the footage released by agencies to prove their officers had done nothing wrong.
In one recent incident in Brunswick County, Virginia, a woman was upset that she had been given a speeding ticket for driving 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. She then claimed untruthfully in a Facebook video that "I was just bullied by a racist cop, who threatened to pull me out of the car." She said, "This is where we got lynched. This is where we got lynched, even in today’s day," and she said she feared for her life. The officer's dash cam footage of the entire stop proved that her allegations were false.
After the Brunswick County sheriff reviewed the body cam footage that showed the allegation was false, the sheriff commented on the hatred and violence toward police that false allegations can inflame: “I don’t know what she has been through and I don’t know her life history, what I worry about is this kind of thing will inflame situations where you see cops in other states have been executed while they were just eating lunch."
Body camera footage that protects officers from false allegations may help prevent community unrest and retribution against police.
BODY CAMERAS HELP CITIZENS OBTAIN JUSTICE IF POLICE OFFICERS VIOLATE THEIR RIGHTS
When citizens are victims of police brutality or other misconduct, body camera footage can be used to prove that officers violated their rights.
For example, a police officer's body camera footage showed him beating, strangling and shocking an unarmed African-American pedestrian suspected of jaywalking in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2017. The officer admitted to using his taser to punch the man in the face several times. The officer was found by police to have used excessive force. He quit the Asheville Police Department and is facing criminal charges for the beating, including felony assault by strangulation.