Police Body Cameras: Changes in Policy in Birmingham and Nationwide

Text Chris Reid with your legal questions today @ (205) 913-7406!

Recently there has been a notable increase in the public’s desire for local police officers to wear body cameras. Many areas of our country, including right here in the Birmingham, Alabama area, have begun to invest in this technology. However, there are a number of pros and cons to the use of body cameras.

Police body cameras involve a relatively new form of technology, so it is difficult to weigh the full effects just yet. While proponents for the use of body cameras have received a great deal of support, the actual implementation of body cameras may be a bit more complicated than is often initially reported. There are certainly a number of concerns relating to police body cameras.

Firstly, jurisdictions must consider the cost of the body cameras. The amount of impact on local municipal budgets could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For most communities a figure of that magnitude can not be taken lightly. Police departments across Alabama and the nation will have to work to find a reasonable price tag and implementation strategy for the technology.

Second, there are a number of privacy concerns associated with the cameras. If an incident occurs within a home, school or hospital, officers must decide to what extent the video will be released to the media and elsewhere. Police often deal with the public in both tragic and unflattering moments. It may not be fitting to have these videos on the news or social media. So, we must weigh the benefits of the videos in order to arrive at a proper conclusion for release.

Lastly, problems arise when it comes to the logistics of storing the videos. A substantial database of high quality video is required if every officer in a jurisdiction is expected to record every official moment of their daily shift.

While all of these concerns are valid, there are also a number of suspected benefits associated with body cameras. The implementation of body cameras has been known to yield a decline in incidents of force and in number of citizen complaints; thusly, body cameras are expected to benefit both police officers and the general public. Body camera footage is most often used to exonerate officers and clear up misconceptions regarding a given incident.

Undoubtedly, a number of logistics are left to be determined. While there is a clear, nationwide shift towards the use of police body cameras, an exact policy route remains unclear. So much goes into obtaining and regulating the cameras; hopefully, the route Birmingham has taken will prove effective in the future. 

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested in Alabama, please contact the Reid Law Firm today at 205-913-7406! You can also text us at (205) 913-7406 for a quick answer to any legal question. Chris Reid can be reached by email at chris.reid@reidlawalabama.com. All communication to the Reid Law Firm is protected by attorney client privilege, so any information submitted will be held in confidence. Initial consultations are always free. For a complete list of our practice areas please visit www.reidlawalabama.com. 

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of the legal services performed by other lawyers.

Our firm practices the following areas of law: wills, trust, and estates, divorce and family, DUI and drug offenses (only first and second time offenses), and car accident cases. We also handle business law, including formation of business entities and drafting contracts. Additionally, I co-host Yellowhammer News every Monday during lunch from 11-12 on 101.1 fm Birmingham (but our show is broadcast throughout most of the state).