The well-intentioned but blind rush by legislators and special interest groups to equip law enforcement officers with body cameras is going to result in a lot of good taxpayer dollars being wasted on the wrong tools.
A camera strapped to the chest is a nearly static platform in our fast-moving world. If Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson had been wearing a chest-mounted camera, the only image recorded when Michael Brown thrust his ham-sized fist through that police vehicle’s open window to play the knock-out game on his skull would have been a jarred and shaky image of the cruiser’s steering wheel.
A camera mounted on the human head, hat, helmet or glasses and parallel to the line of the wearer’s sight can rapidly pan left and right and tilt up and down to immediately record images where the officer’s attention is focused and presents a more accurate assessment of a developing situation.
A camera mounted on one’s chest requires an officer to maneuver his body to properly aim it at the threat to capture the unfolding action. When the officer is shooting, the head-mounted camera would be literally looking at the same thing seen by the shooter, while the chest camera could well be covered by the arms of an officer shooting with a two-handed grip. The law enforcement officer’s primary job is to subdue the threat and come home alive, not die trying to position his camera.
How much more equipment do we hang on a cop’s duty belt in an effort to meet any after-action legal requirements? Will our legal efforts make officers more effective? Or are we forcing a bewildering array of holster choices upon them, slowing their reaction time to the point that it could cost them their lives?