What will this accomplish?
The Boston City Council is currently debating the idea of purchasing BodyCams for its police officers while on duty. Several large cities across the nation are having the same debate. Critics across the country believe these cameras are necessary to catch rogue law-breaking cops. Their criticism stems from a number of controversial police stops in New York, Baltimore, etc.
A number of police officers feel such cameras might actually interfere during police stops as cops would start second guessing every move they make. Others in law enforcement think these cameras will show that the overwhelming majority of cops are actually doing a good job of policing across America’s cities.
I watched the August 5 City Council hearing on the question of body cameras and both sides of this argument have valid concerns needed to be addressed.
City Councilors Charles Yancey and Tito Jackson are both strong supporters of this new policing tool but no one should think that cameras are a crime prevention tool. Cameras won’t stop crimes.
I am concerned about the high cost of implementing this camera idea. Do we purchase and outfit the entire Boston Police Department officers? How much will that cost taxpayers? Is it cost-effective? One witness added that the cost isn’t as important as saving one life> However, isn’t that an assumption that cameras will be finding plenty of bad cops out there on the street?
The idea of body cameras must be debated. There are two sides in this debate. Many i8n the community think it is a great idea but many in the police department are not as sure.
Before we set out to purchase all these cameras, perhaps we need a pilot program of some sort. Is it possible to lease out these cameras for ,say, six months and place them in high crime areas of the city. Pick a police district and try them out them out in , say, B-2, B-3 or E-13?
The last thing the citizens of Boston need are politicians telling the police how to do their job. We must not play politics with public safety.
Building trust between the community and the police has been working effectively in Boston? Will arming police officers with body cameras hurt the trust that has been building over recent years? Are we in the business of building safer communities or are we into knee-jerk feel-good action that accomplishes what?
Sergeant SAL GIARRATANI (retired)
Special State Police Office DMH Boston