Hillary Clinton’s call for mandatory body-worn cameras for police is part of an increasing wave to make such cameras part of the standard equipment. In an age when most citizens have a camera in their phone, it’s a logical step for the police to have cameras while performing their vital role. This type of trend isn’t new: From interview room recordings to jail CCTV to in-car video, as the technology has become available and affordable, it has helped to safeguard all parties and ensure the law is enforced fairly and correctly.
But simply providing camera recorders to all officers isn’t sufficient. It checks the box for a headline, but creates a problem for the investigation and records management of the police. A basic system simply becomes another isolated source of evidence that’s difficult to access, control, and share. In short, another silo of data when investigations need information.
Body-worn video will reach its full potential as a source of information to solve crimes and protect both the public and officers as part of an integrated digital evidence management strategy that encompasses access, controls, and compliance to ensure the integrity of evidence throughout the justice process.
Knowing the sequence of information and events is critical to understanding whether a response was reasonable or not. A digital evidence management system that pulls in body-worn camera video and other data, such as squad car video, 911 calls, dispatch radio communications, and public videos, can provide that insight. After all, hindsight is always 20-20, and events taken out of context can be very misleading.