The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Body cameras can vindicate cops, too

A case from New Mexico shows why good cops should support the use of body cameras:

An Albuquerque police officer’s body camera was activated during the arrest of a woman suspected of driving while intoxicated – capturing the moment the woman attempted to frame him.
According to KOB, APD Officer Jared Frazier stopped 23-year-old Deanna Griego in early October for a DWI and conducted a field sobriety test . . .
After failing the sobriety test, Griego was taken into the station for DWI. A breathalyzer detected a .13 blood alcohol level.
Griego then asked the officer if she could use the restroom.
Officer Frazier then heard Griego speaking with someone while in the bathroom, asking, “How can I get this officer in trouble?”
Frazier then remembered Griego had slipped her cell phone into her bra at the beginning of the traffic stop, according to the report.
When Frazier ordered Griego to step out of the restroom, she began accusing him of sexual misconduct.
“[You were] inappropriately touching me while I was waiting in the car,” Griego can be heard saying in the video.
Frazier informed Griego that the entire stop had been recorded. Officers with the sex crimes division of the department later conducted a full investigation and cleared Frazier of any wrongdoing.

And just as knowing that they’re being monitored is likely to encourage better behavior from cops in general, once it becomes common knowledge that all interactions with police officers will be recorded, I suspect we’ll also see fewer assaults on cops, attempts to bait police and other incriminating behavior from police antagonists. At the very least, we’re likely to see fewer false allegations of abuse.

I’ve previously laid out some caveats to the widespread use of body cameras. And they obviously aren’t a panacea for police misconduct or for police-community relations. But generally speaking, so long as their use is accompanied by a few critical policies, they seem like a win-win.