Local law enforcement officers are in the process of getting a high-tech tool that will better chronicle interactions between the thin blue line and the public. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has already begun equipping deputies with body cameras and the Frankfort Police Department will likely be sporting the devices by the end of the year.
Body cams are quickly becoming the norm as law enforcement agencies across the country jump into the digital age. While in-car dash cameras are helpful, their range is limited and they don’t capture exchanges between officers and the public as well as body cams do.
“It’s more open, more transparent,” said Frankfort Police Chief Chuck Adams of the footage obtained from body cameras.
While we agree that local first responders should be equipped with the latest technology, the sad reality is the devices are mostly a response to complaints against officers and are supposed to promote accountability.
The family of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed African American who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri, called for police nationwide to use body cameras.
Currently, about 33% of the country’s officers are equipped with body cams. That number is expected to rise to 47% by year’s end, according to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, which also found the majority of law enforcement officers support wearing them.
But not all. In an August 2017 interview with The State Journal, veteran FCSO deputy Roy Rivers, a former city police officer who serves as school resource officer at The Academy, said, “It’s a shame that we have to have body cams. A police officer’s word is not enough? It’s an insult to me, after 30 years, that my word is not good enough. It didn’t used to be that way.”
However, his son, Zack, a current FPD officer, sees the benefits of body-worn cameras. “It’s entirely different to me. When I was in the (police) academy, Ferguson was going on. I understand the need for them and I would love to have a body cam.”
While both officers have valid points, we believe body cams will provide an extra layer of protection for police and the public as well as decrease the number of complaints against officers.