About Bradley's Blog:

A cop, a writer and a whole lot more.

Here you'll find my thoughts on writing, links to my published works, law enforcement musings and other tidbits. Please subscribe to my blog and I encourage you to share anything you find worthy. Thanks!

Disclaimer: these are my opinions and mine alone. I am not speaking as a representative of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in any shape or form here. These are not necessarily the opinions of my employer.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Body Cameras and Law Enforcement

There's an awful lot of unrest brewing in America today. People are frustrated with government and in many instances, rightfully so. Half of America is upset that government is overreaching and becoming too involved in our everyday lives. The other half is upset because they believe government hasn't done enough for them.

A lot of the angry feelings towards our elected officials trickles down to the police. Why? Because the police are out there every day, in contact with the public, while the politicians sit behind closed doors, making their decrees. The people have access to the police and don't have access to the ones they're most frustrated with. That close contact brings the ire towards government to bear upon the police, even when the cops are probably just as frustrated with the government as anyone else.

Nearly every cop I have ever known entered the profession because they want to do something that makes a difference. They want to impact people’s lives for the better and help protect their communities. Are there cops who have made the profession look bad? Without a doubt. We’ve all seen the news. And although it may seem to some people that the incidents of police misconduct have increased, I think the number has been reduced significantly in the past decade. Most police are better educated, better screened and better trained than they have been in the history of the profession. And they're more aware of the consequences of misconduct.

The problem is with perception. Everyone has a video camera with them all the time now--a cell phone. Combine that with viral uploading to outlets like YouTube and Facebook, and you've got a perception problem. People see the videos of police wrongdoing and they perceive it to have affected them personally. They're outraged. And they should be. Double-down with the 24-hour news cycle on cable and satellite TV and the constant regurgitation of the same news stories every thirty minutes, and you've got a real recipe for trouble. Now all cops are bad, right? A pretty broad brush that too many are painting with.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not an opponent of police misconduct being exposed. Nobody is more pleased when bad cops are exposed and removed than the cops who go to work every day to serve.

I'm somewhat thrilled about the advent of body cameras being worn in policing. I think they can bring transparency and accountability that the public desires and also believe it will exonerate a large number of cops from false claims of misconduct. If they reduce misconduct, expose actual misconduct and reduce false claims of misconduct, it seems like there's a lot of positive takeaway there.


But body cameras aren't a silver bullet that will cure everything. There are real concerns about privacy, when the cameras should be on, who has access to the footage and exposing police methods and tactics to the criminal element. If a public records request can be made for police video footage, that footage can be used in ways that does not benefit the public or the police. We must have some foresight in how we proceed.

What do you think about the push in law enforcement for body cameras to be implemented? I'd like to know your thoughts.

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