FAU study reviews police body cameras

Posted at 8:34 PM, Dec 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-15 20:34:37-05

A Florida Atlantic University study surveyed  law enforcement personnel in leadership roles about their thoughts about body cameras.

The new study showed mixed reviews from police chiefs, captains, and sheriffs about the body cameras.

"The reviews weren't unexpected. I saw there was mixed results in command staff," West Palm Beach Police Chief Bryan Kummerlen said.

West Palm Beach Police is the first agency in Palm Beach County to require their officers to wear body cameras.

"What I like about the body camera is it allows you to see the entire perspective of the incident we're going to," Officer Ryan Secord said.

According to the study, about fifty percent of law enforcement leaders support body cameras.

And fifty percent said body cameras do impact officers' decision to use force.

"If you have proper training and you know what you are doing and you are out there, I'm not going to change the way I do something because I have a camera on my shoulder," Scord said.

Half of those surveyed agreed the cameras could be used by supervisors to "fish" for evidence to use to discipline officers.

Kummerlen says that kind of fishing is not allowed at his department.

"We don't just randomly review officers video. If there is a complaint, use of force, or a pursuit, there are certain cases where we look at it. But just to go to a guys video and see what he did during his shift..we would never do that," Kummerlen said.

Among the findings according to FAU:

• Fifty percent support the use of body-worn cameras in their agencies

• Only 21 percent agree or strongly agree that body-worn cameras would affect officer behavior while on duty; more than 58 percent were neutral

• One-third believe body-worn cameras would improve police officer behavior during interactions with citizens; 50 percent are neutral • Nearly 50 percent agree that body-worn cameras will impact police officers’ decision to use force in encounters with citizens

• Nearly 50 percent believe that body-worn cameras will improve citizen behavior during interactions with police • Almost 60 percent agree or strongly agree that the media will use data from body cameras to embarrass or persecute police

• More than 60 percent agree or strongly agree that pressure to implement body-worn cameras comes from the media • Two-thirds agree or strongly agree that use of body-worn cameras is supported by the public because society does not trust police

• Fifty percent agree or strongly agree that body-worn cameras will result in an increase in guilty pleas from people charged with crimes

• Nearly 63 percent do not believe that body-worn cameras are an invasion of a police officer’s privacy, but are evenly split on whether they are an invasion of citizens’ privacy

• Almost half agree or strongly agree that body-worn cameras could be used by supervisors to “fish” for evidence used to discipline officers • Fifty percent believe that the maintenance and upkeep of body cameras will take time away from normal duties