Rialto, CA- The Rialto Police Department, over the past year, has been experimenting with equipping body cameras to the 70 officers on its force. The initial results show a promising solution to the excessive use of force by officers.
The police chief in Rialto, Tony Farrar, is on record as stating, “ I think we’ve opened some eyes in the law enforcement world. We’ve shown the potential.”
This potential he speaks of is due to the scientific data that this experiment has yielded over the course of the last year. The body cameras were introduced on officers in February 2012, over the next twelve months total complaints filed against them dropped by a staggering 88%, with use of force by officers dropping by 60%.
With the cameras there has been an improvement in officer’s demeanor and tone towards those they serve. As Chief Farrar noted, “With a camera they are more conscious of how they speak and how they treat people.”
When those in a position of authority are watched they are less likely to abuse that authority. Chief Farrar says, “That’s just human nature. As an officer you act a bit more professional, follow the rules a bit better.” In addition it also helps protect officers from false accusations of excessive use of force.
Chief Farrar is providing a new paradigm for policing, taking a proactive approach rather than making excuses for his officers and toeing the line. To his credit he has a master’s degree from the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, from which stemmed the idea to utilize cameras.
By holding officers more accountable, expensive lawsuits and payouts can be avoided, making it fiscally, as well as socially responsible. Even the ACLU has come out in support of the move, saying that with proper oversight and accountability, even privacy concerns would be outweighed.
The scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that this program could be an effective and efficient model for nationwide police reform. If you would like to see a similar program implemented in your area, get in touch with your mayor/city council/county board and demand cameras on officers in your local jurisdiction.