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Body-Mounted Video Cameras Bring up First Amendment, Privacy Concerns

November 7, 2011 | Posted In Recent News - Administrative Law

Across the country, hundreds of police departments are arming officers with tiny body-mounted police cameras to record evidence as it occurs.  These cameras are being used to record evidence of everything from pursuits to violent crimes.  However, questions of privacy and complications involving First Amendment issues have arisen as camera use has been on the rise.

At least 700 police departments across the country currently equip police officers with clip-on video cameras.  These cameras are meant to attach to the officer’s vest.  The cameras' purpose is to offer tangible proof of officer behavior, thereby reducing the number of civil actions and lawsuits against police departments.  The aim is also to foster a culture of transparency and give officers security from unreasonable allegations.  As such, many police officers are in favor of the use of the cameras because they provide documentation of incidents.

In some cases, the cameras have provided vital evidence of police wrongdoing.  For example, in the city of Oakland, California, the cameras recorded four police officers planting drugs on a suspect.  The department is now under supervision based on that incident.  Other cities are also considering the use of video cameras to ward off accusations of misconduct during police raids or drug busts.

Overall, the consensus seems to be that, if used correctly, the cameras can actually foster a more agreeable relationship between the police and the public.

The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons who have been charged with DUI, sex crimes, drug crimes, fraud, assault and other crimes across New Jersey.

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