DENVER (AP) – In a warning to law enforcement agencies rushing to equip officers with body cameras after killings by police nationwide, a new report says the devices used by Denver officers during a trial period didn’t record most of the use-of-force incidents that occurred.
Denver’s independent police monitor, Nicholas Mitchell, also said police used force more often and citizens’ complaints against officers rose during the cameras’ six-month trial period in the city’s busy downtown district. Police officials repeatedly said they expected the cameras would drive down those numbers.
Experts say the early findings released Tuesday are a reminder that the effectiveness of the increasingly popular technology, billed as a tool to improve police accountability, still depends on the officers using it.
Denver officers’ body cameras recorded just 21 of 80 documented uses of force in the downtown district during the trial, which ran from June to December, Mitchell found. Thirty-five of the encounters weren’t recorded because they involved off-duty officers, who were not required to wear the cameras while moonlighting as security guards.
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Police officers wearing the cameras on their lapels or eyeglasses were involved in 45 of the cases. Yet less than half of those were recorded, either because cameras weren’t activated or they weren’t used in a way that provided worthwhile recordings.
Officers were expected to activate their cameras during a broad range of encounters, including traffic stops and responses to 911 calls. In many cases, officers said situations deteriorated too quickly for them to safely activate their cameras. But Mitchell found that officers often failed to follow policies requiring them to turn on the cameras before initiating an encounter.
Other times, the cameras shifted and were obstructed by officers’ clothes, the batteries died or they shut off in the middle of a scuffle.
Mitchell’s report highlights the shortcomings of body cameras at a time when hundreds of departments grapple with policies for their use. Officers in one out of every six police departments around the country patrol with the tiny cameras, and President Barack Obama recommended spending $74 million … – Click Here To Visit Article Source