Police Body Cameras in Missouri: Good or Bad Policy? An Academic Viewpoint Seen Through the Lens of a Former Law Enforcement Official

Number 2 (Summer/Fall 2014) Missouri Policy Journal

6 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2014

Date Written: December 2, 2014

Abstract

After the fatal shooting of an African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014, various police departments are exploring the use of body cameras. With tensions high, it is hopeful that body worn camera policies will be based on sound research and that appropriate measures are made to achieve optimum effectiveness. The author of this writing, a former law enforcement official and current academic, presents some challenges that police administrators will need to address toward body camera implementation. Because racism is difficult to accurately measure and police are historically reluctant to provide genuine feedback for researchers, the author introduces hypothetical, but realistic, phenomena for Missouri law enforcement leaders to assess. This writing raises questions to who is attracted to or being chosen for the police profession. While difficult and perhaps impossible to prove because of hidden factors, conservatism and lack of college education might be correlated to an officer’s judgment toward delivering equitable treatment to all citizens. Thus, some officers might be motivated to undermine any new policies that hinder their autonomy in policing? The author’s personal experiences are laid out to acknowledge the complexities behind introducing new policies based on knee jerk reactions if self-assessments within departments are not first drawn out.

Keywords: police, body cameras, racism, education, conservatism, policy, policies, theory, change, consequences

Suggested Citation

Witherspoon, Pernell, Police Body Cameras in Missouri: Good or Bad Policy? An Academic Viewpoint Seen Through the Lens of a Former Law Enforcement Official (December 2, 2014). Number 2 (Summer/Fall 2014) Missouri Policy Journal. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2538932

Pernell Witherspoon (Contact Author)

Lindenwood University ( email )

209 S. Kingshighway
St. Charles, MO 63301
United States
6369494987 (Phone)

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