Body cameras are changing police policy

In July, a U.S. federal judge ruled that New York City officers wearing body cameras as part of a pilot project are required to record "low level encounters."

Law enforcement in New York are required to turn on their body cameras following a lawsuit

Police forces across Canada are testing and taking different approaches on the use of body cameras (Oliver Walters/CBC)
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In July, a U.S. federal judge ruled that New York City officers wearing body cameras as part of a pilot project are required to record "low level encounters."

Low-level police interactions are described as instances where police ask citizens questions like "what are you doing here?" and "where are you going?" These stops are similar to what's known as carding in Canada, a controversial process in which police stop, question, and ask individuals to supply personal information.

"It's really entirely within the officer's control about when to turn it on, so depending on when he or she turns it on you're going to get only a partial view, and some might say biased view of what happened," Darius Charney, a lawyer at the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York told Spark.
Darius Charney is a senior attorney at the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York (CCR)

"So for example if an officer, let's say, illegally stops somebody for no reason but doesn't turn the camera on until the point when the person is getting mad, and saying 'leave me the F alone' and then at that point the officer uses force, one might think well this video clearly shows the officer was justified when you're actually not getting the full story."

In August 2013 a federal judge found the New York City police liable for racial profiling and unconstitutional stops, in the class action lawsuit, Floyd et al vs. City of New York, which Charney acted as the lead defence counsel.

According to the CCR, 85 per cent of those stopped by NYPD police were Black and Latino men. As a result of the Floyd case, stakeholders are considering the policies on how police footage is captured.