Picture: Taser Axon Flex body worn video camera for police officers
The family of Michael Brown, the unarmed black American who was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, have called for police to use body worn video cameras.
The Grand Jury in Missouri declined to indict the police officer, Darren Wilson, because they felt there was not “probable cause” to pursue a prosecution against him for murder or a number of lesser offences.
In a statement issued after the verdict was made public, the family said:
“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions. While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen,” they wrote.
And they added: “Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.”
At issue in the case is the police officer’s word against those of a number of witnesses. Officer Wilson claims that he acted in self-defence and was afraid for his life, while witnesses claim that Brown had raised his hands and was trying to surrender when he was shot repeatedly.
The Brown family feel that body worn video, if it had been used, would have acted as an impartial witness.
There is evidence to support this from studies conducted in the US.
In one study, conducted in Rialto, California, body worn video was associated with a 50% reduction in incidents of police using force and a 90% reduction in complaints from citizens about officer misconduct. The study was conducted by the Rialto Police Chief, Tony Farrar, and published by the Police Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving American policing. The co-author was Barak Ariel, PhD, Jerry Lee Fellow in Experimental Criminology and Teaching Associate in the Police Executive Programme, Cambridge University.
In another study, conducted by researchers at Arizona State University, the police department in Mesa, Arizona showed a 48% reduction in complaints about police officer misconduct and a 75% decrease in use of force complaints.