Calls for greater use of police body worn cameras (BWCs) gained widespread support after several unarmed black men were killed by law enforcement between 2014 and 2017. However, BWCs are being asked to solve problems far more complex than they appear on the surface. This paper begins by establishing the historical roots of distrust between the black community and police. Next, the paper proposes a theoretical framework and examines key issues, including (1) ideals of BWCs as an instrument of the search for truth and a means of greater police accountability, (2) potential limitations, including questions of reliability/accuracy, privacy, and costs, and (3) questions over access to footage. Finally, this paper uses recommendations by the American Civil Liberties Union and Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission to argue that although BWCs are not a panacea, they can still be part of the solution for the concerns they are meant to address.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2017. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Jane Kirtley. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 128 pages.
Police Body Cameras: Historical Context, Ongoing Debate, & Where To Go From Here.
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