Techdirt: Prosecutors Benefiting Most From Police Body Cameras by Tim Cushing:
Touted as police accountability tools, body cameras haven’t lived up to that reputation. Camera roll outs have had mixed results. In some places, departments have experienced declines in complaints. In others, the data shows nothing conclusive — except, perhaps, that the cameras can be manipulated as easily as dashcams and audio recorders. The one place cameras are definitely paying off, it seems, is in courtrooms. And it has nothing to do with civil lawsuits and everything to do with locking people up. If there’s an entity benefiting directly from the explosion in body camera use, it’s the nation’s prosecutors. The stated fears about body-worn cameras being used by department brass to play ‘gotcha’ with the rank-and-file haven’t materialized. More often than not, footage is being used to put people behind bars. A George Mason University survey [PDF] of prosecutors shows a majority of them have used body-worn camera footage as evidence.
Like cameras in the police car, now for going on three decades, or written consent to search forms for the side of the road. As to the latter, you’d be amazed at the consents to search that have been granted, confirmed by dashcam, that resulted in huge seizures of dope. I advocated for dashcams here in the 1980s to settle a pretext lawsuit because of the arguments over consent and pretextual stops. It was a two-edge sword, as the Director of the Arkansas State Police and I agreed. Now almost every police agency has them.
Then there’s the body camera video from five months ago from Baltimore allegedly catching a cop planting drugs and a reputed dashcam audio catching a Georgia cop raping a motorist about 20-25 years ago.