A New Twist on Body Cam Worries

With more law enforcement agencies across the country are equipping their officers with body cameras as a way to monitor their officers’ interactions with the public, more of these devices are finding their way into our public schools. While this has become quite popular with many, there are others that question there use and how it might affect the privacy of students.

Best Behavior
Worth noting is that most people tend to be on their best behavior if they know they are being recorded. At the same time, the footage captured can be used as evidence in the case of criminal proceedings, including those involving students of any age. The recordings could either prove the accused’s guilt or innocence.

During the Obama administration a series of government grants encouraged by public support and a suite of new laws, police agencies were able to purchase 50,000 body cams across the nations. At that time most were issued to officers who are not equipped with a vehicle or whose vehicle did not contain recording equipment.

This of course led to the introduction of body cameras to school resource officers, bringing them into the school environment. Officers typically do not walk around with their cameras turned on, instead they turn them on when interacting with students or they are investigating a complaint or situation.

Not Enough Justification
At the time, many felt there simply is not enough violence or criminal activity in our schools to justify the use of body cameras by school resource officers. Instead, organizations such as the ACLU are more worried about the privacy of our students than they are about protecting their safety.

In light of the spate of school shooting in the past few years and the increasing violence in our schools, the use of body cams may soon find its way into every school in the country. To be sure the cameras make officers far more accountable for their behavior, but in most schools, this is not a problem.

Other fears espoused by the ACLU are that once the footage has been captured and becomes a matter of public record, it could have a lasting negative impact on the student who got into a simple fight or simply made a stupid mistake. However, keep in mind that while on duty in schools the cameras are not left turned on endlessly recording the students. It must be activated by the officer who must have justification for doing so.

As of this time, the National Association of School Resource Officers has yet to take a stance on the use of body cameras by officers. In the end, the public has a major decision to make. When you stop to think about the fact most schools now have security cameras all over recording the students, the use of a body camera by the school resource officer is simply an extension of this and is designed to protect the students just as much as it is to protect the officer. Hopefully the future will see the institution of body cams on all school resource officers as yet another step in protecting our children.

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