An annual review by civil rights groups of transparency and accountability policies in body camera usage by 75 police departments finds little progress in ensuring that the footage collected will not contribute toward more expansive surveillance of communities or offer “a false narrative” of events captured by the video.
Most police departments across the United States have taken few new steps to ensure the footage they collect from body cameras will further transparency and accountability, according to a study released Tuesday by civil rights groups. Government Technology says the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights partnered with Upturn to release a third annual review of body-worn camera policies at 75 police departments across the country. The report evaluated departments across eight criteria and found that they have budged little when it comes to ensuring that the footage collected will not contribute toward more expansive surveillance of communities or offer “a false narrative” of events captured by the video.
“Many people had hopes that these cameras would improve transparency and accountability, and foster a greater public trust in local law enforcement,” said Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference. “But the promise of these cameras is not guaranteed … there’s a real risk that these new devices can become instruments of injustice.” The number of departments reviewed in the report has increased each year it’s been released, rising from 25 in 2015 to 51 in 2016 and now 75. The study found that 26 departments made no improvements since last year, 18 made minor policy improvements, and seven regressed. Baltimore was credited with making improvements across four of the eight indicators used in the evaluation.