The growing divide between law enforcement and citizens has been caused by police brutality and over-policing in poor communities. To combat allegations of police corruption and physical abuse, many Florida police units have embraced body cameras to ensure that their conduct was necessary. Although it is not mandatory for a police agency to use body cameras, the state is taking measures to ensure there are protocols for what to do with the video footage after it has been captured on camera.
House Bill 305
The most recent example is Florida House Bill 305, which was signed into law this month. The bill authorizes a law enforcement officer to review the video footage before completing any reports or providing any witness statements.
Body cameras are generally viewed positively amongst the public, but there are still many issues that arise.
The cameras are not always on when they should be. The Atlantic reported on three such cases that occurred across the country where the video footage was completely missing or where the footage only started after the first shots were fired in the incident. If police are not following their agency’s protocols for body cameras, then further laws such as House Bill 305 will not do anything to improve the reporting process.
The angle of the camera may not give a full and accurate picture of the situation. Before the use of body cameras, there were dash cameras in squad cars. Body cameras were meant to get a better picture of what the police officer witnesses as they approach and react to a scene. New technology is still coming into the market. For instance, News4Jax recently reported on the development of cameras that can be mounted on a police officer’s gun. The camera will automatically turn on when a gun is pulled from the holster. Again, they are hoping to reduce the disputes as to whether or not an officer was justified in pulling their weapon.
The cameras also capture video of other witnesses or victims whose identity needs to remain undisclosed. Often, individuals are not even aware that they are being videotaped. Some states have created laws about who can and who cannot release video footage from a body camera.
Call the Skier Law Firm Today
If you are suspected of a crime or have been charged with a crime that involved the use of a law enforcement body camera, you need an attorney who has experience in such cases. Was the video suddenly “gone” or did the officer somehow forget to turn on their camera? Does the footage only show the aftermath of the arrest, but nothing leading up to the arrest? These are questions that your attorney needs to ask to ensure that your rights are being protected. Unfortunately, police corruption and abuse of power happens all the time, and all too often, body cameras somehow fail to capture an officer’s allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the defendant.
Don’t wait to reach out to a skilled West Palm Beach attorney for help. Call the offices of the Skier Law Firm today at (561) 220-3355 for assistance.