Body cameras are designed to protect the police from false charges of misconduct, provide evidence that can potentially be used and court and — most importantly — deter officers from violating a suspect’s civil rights.
So, what did the New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) find when they started looking into allegations of misconduct? Officers wearing body cameras simply tipped each other off so that their fellow officers knew not to misbehave while the cameras were rolling. Some of the not-so-subtle phrases they use to tip each other off to a live camera included:
- “I went Hollywood.”
- “I’m hot.”
- “We’re live.”
Other officers were just a little cagier, tapping their mics or cameras, brushing their shoulders or using other visual cues and hand signals to let their peers know the cameras were on.
Needless to say, the CCRB isn’t pleased. It says that the use of signals — verbal or otherwise — to clue another officer in that a camera is on runs counter to the purpose of having the body cam in the first place. The police, via a spokesperson, said that the police are merely trying “to notify members of the public as soon as reasonably practical” that an officer’s body camera is recording and they’re merely using “a form of de-escalation.”
It’s important to be aware of issues like this when you’re dealing with the police. Body cams aren’t necessarily effective at stopping police brutality when they’re being selectively used. If your rights were violated by the police, find out how an attorney can help.