Orlando PD's New Body Cameras May Impact Race Relations

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Far too often, when there’s an officer-involved shooting, it becomes something of a he said/she said kind of moment. The officer says what happened and, unless the evidence contradicts, it’s accepted. Enter body cameras, which record an officer’s interaction and can clear an officer of wrongdoing.

It’s happened multiple times, and while there was some resistance to the cameras from some officers to start with, they’ve done good things for law enforcement.

Providing people remember to turn them on.

Now, the Orlando Police Department has new body cameras that come on automatically when a firearm or taser is pulled.

It is something that some law enforcement agencies still don’t have, but most larger agencies have been on board with for years: Body-worn cameras.

How fined tuned can body cameras get? The Orlando Police Department just outfitted the department with over $6 million worth of body cameras that are state of the art.

On Thursday, the department demonstrated their new cutting-edge body cameras.

The camera automatically flips on when an officer pulls their gun or engages their taser.

In those situations, when one camera is activated, so is the camera of every officer nearby.

“It is the ultimate in the effort to show we want to be transparent,” Orlando police chief Orlando Rolon said.

Transparency is good. However, this goes beyond pure transparency.

With every camera on in an area, investigators will have more data to examine. They’ll be able to see if the suspect had a weapon and what they were doing with that weapon.

And that may play a greater factor in race relations.

Look, there are those who will be outraged no matter how righteous the shoot was and we all know it. However, those individuals represent a tiny fraction of the population. Most people have enough sense to know that if someone is raising a gun to point it at police, it’s not a racially motivated shooting.

The riots in Ferguson from several years back could have been averted if there had been a video showing Michael Brown charging the deputy and struggling for his weapon, as an example.

Again, some people won’t be satisfied. They’ll be convinced that the officer could have done something different.

Yet most people aren’t that stupid. What happens is they get lied to. Ma’Khia Bryant was charging another girl with a knife when she was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, and while there was outrage, it dissipated because people realized there was going to be a dead black girl either way. All the police did was protect the one who didn’t have a weapon.

So when people start to see that the police aren’t racist, that they really aren’t out there looking for black people to shoot, then maybe things will settle down.

Then, maybe, there are grounds to talk about the roots of racial disparity we see with regard to the criminal justice system. Just screaming racism isn’t going to make anyone want to talk about what the issues might actually be. After all, someone clearly has their minds made up.

Or not.

Either way, though, this kind of thing can ultimately benefit law enforcement and the public as a whole.

Then again, some people are so determined to stir up trouble that I can’t tell you to put money down on it.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET