Oakland PD Body Cams Help Cut Police-Involved Shootings From 8 A Year To Zero In The Last 18 Months.

from the the-Mild-West-of-law-enforcement dept

More good news on the police body cam front: according to Oakland's mayor, the police department's camera program has significantly reduced use of force incidents.

[Mayor] Jean Quan said Oakland police officers had 2,186 use-of-force incidents in 2009, the last year that no officers wore body cameras, and that number declined to 836 such incidents last year and to only 572 incidents so far this year, with just two weeks remaining.
It's not just excessive force that's seen a drastic reduction. The department's 619 body cams have also played a part in reducing the use of deadly force.
She also noted that the department has gone more than 18 months without an officer-involved shooting, in a city that used to average about eight such incidents a year.
Additionally, Quan said the captured footage has been useful in defending officers against bogus excessive force allegations, proving the cameras "work both ways."

A body camera system is nothing without solid policies backing them up. Anyone can instruct an officer to wear a camera, but only a department solidly behind the program will hold them accountable if they fail to do so. According to public records obtained by Ars Technica, the Oakland PD is making a genuine effort to ensure devices are on and recording.
Over the last two years, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) has disciplined police officers on 24 occasions for disabling or failing to activate body-worn cameras, newly released public records show

The new data shows that the most common punishment for officers who did not comply with their own department’s policy was a "written reprimand" or a suspension of one to three days. One officer was even suspended for 20 days in December 2013 due to an allegation of failing to activate his body-worn camera.

On November 22, 2013, there were five separate incidents where officers allegedly "improperly removed" or "failed to initiate their PDRD." One of those officers, none of whom were named, appears to have resigned as a result of the incident.
As Cyrus Farivar points out, something strange happened on November 22 of last year (records requests have been filed for more details), but otherwise, department officials are staying on top of cops who don't comply with the camera policy. This also suggests the city's 700 officers are comfortable with the recording devices, as the number of violations is very low. If this were just a case of underreported abuse, it's likely the department would not have seen such a dramatic drop in use of force incidents.

Taking this program seriously is essential to its success. To do otherwise is to trend towards something like the Los Angeles Police Department's situation: widespread and open abuse. Voice recording equipment installed in vehicles was routinely tampered with and one precinct found that half of its squad cars had their antennas removed or disabled. Those overseeing the recording program weren't informed of this abuse until months after it had been discovered.

Outside factors can have some effect on officer behavior, but better policing starts from within. The Oakland PD seems to have a handle on its body cam program and both its officers and the public they serve are better for it.

Filed Under: body cameras, oakland, police


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Dec 2014 @ 9:44pm

    It's strange how cops wearing cameras reduces instances of police use-of-force and shootings, yet every time one of these instances gets covered by the media or on the internet, the cops, city officials, and their supporters always claim it's the victim's fault and it's always something they did or didn't do that caused the incident.

    There certainly are legitimate citizen-caused incidents of police violence and shootings, but this trend seems to strongly indicate that police are changing their behavior with these cameras on and apparently that reduces these instances. If the police changing their behavior reduces these instances, it seems like the police are likely contributing greatly to the occurrence of these instances.

    I know the obvious response to this conclusion is, "duh, we already knew that," but we need to keep publishing these numbers to get it ingrained in the collective consciousness of our culture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 23 Dec 2014 @ 9:57pm

    Seems like this would be a good time to bring up; Correlation is not causation.

    Ducks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 2:15am

      Re:

      I like how numbers from 2010,2011, and 2012 are conveniently left out of the statement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 9:52am

        Re: Re:

        "I like how numbers from 2010,2011, and 2012 are conveniently left out of the statement."

        Try following the links sometime. Cited news article reports these numbers for use of force incidents (from the mayor).
        2009: 2,186
        2010: 1,945 (year implied)
        2011: 1,494
        2012: 1,244
        2013: 836

        I hate having to do the reading comprehension part for others... but some people are ridiculous.
        2014: 572 (so far)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 23 Dec 2014 @ 10:37pm

    It's strange how cops wearing cameras reduces instances of police use-of-force and shootings, yet every time one of these instances gets covered by the media or on the internet, the cops, city officials, and their supporters always claim it's the victim's fault and it's always something they did or didn't do that caused the incident.

    The logic is something like: this rape would have been more pleasant for everyone involved if the victim had just followed instructions and filed charges later.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 1:44am

    wow, this is like the worst correlation/causation thing I've ever read anywhere. what the fuck is going on in this place?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      BW (profile), 24 Dec 2014 @ 9:12am

      The article doesn't state there is causation...

      Your logical brain inferred it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 10:09am

      Re:

      What, are you an 11th grade science student who is parroting back what the teacher just told you?

      Correlation and causation are not equal, but are linked. It is nearly impossible to definitively prove causation outside of a lab due to the number of variables... but you'd know that if you weren't an 11th grader.

      This article says that there is some link between item A (reduction in shooting and use of force events) and item B (the increased use of body cameras). There are way more factors talked about in the original news article that aren't covered here, probably because the point of this story is to point out that cameras appear to be part of a positive move in this city. The fact you jump to causation means you don't know the difference, cause the writer of this story uses the word "help", not "cause".

      So yeah, good luck finishing up school.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 1:54am

    Doesn't work in Missouri

    Police wear cams.
    Police tape over nametags.
    Police tell citizens to go fuck themselves.
    Police brutally murder another boy and leave him to bleed to death on the ground, denying him medical care and refusing to let his mother comfort him.
    Police refuse to release video of incident.

    Next?

    Police release personal details on the dead boy in order to demonize him and justify his death. (This will probably include planting evidence and suppressing witness statements.)
    Police and prosecutors rig the grand jury process.
    Police start "charity" fund to lavishly reward the officer who pulled the trigger.
    Repeat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Dec 2014 @ 2:37am

      Re: Doesn't work in Missouri

      Cameras help, but when the entire force, and courts, in a given area are completely corrupt already, cameras aren't really going to do much to solve that.

      When a scumbag cop knows that, video or not, they can do whatever they want and neither their superiors, nor the judges, will ever hold them accountable, then the video doesn't really matter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 6:18am

      Re: Doesn't work in Missouri

      you forgot police brutally intimidate anyone who protests their brutality

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 6:40am

      Re: Doesn't work in Missouri

      Let me correct myself. The officer involved in last night's shooting (in Berkeley MO) apparently "forgot" to wear a body cam. And the dash cam was "accidentally" turned off.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    smoodle (profile), 24 Dec 2014 @ 6:12am

    State legislation around police body cams

    I looked up what states have introduced legislation recently. The idea seems to be gaining significant momentum!

    Full list here:
    http://www.billtrack50.com/Public/Stakeholder/NPpB6BDfC0KWq8LH8ps32g

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BW (profile), 24 Dec 2014 @ 10:05am

    Judging by the effectiveness of the videos...

    It won't make a bit of difference how many cameras they have. The cameras will have been turned on during attacks (of any type, for any reason, without context) on police, and "accidently" left off the rest of the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 11:11am

      Re: Judging by the effectiveness of the videos...

      Hence, from the article:

      "A body camera system is nothing without solid policies backing them up. Anyone can instruct an officer to wear a camera, but only a department solidly behind the program will hold them accountable if they fail to do so. "

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Dec 2014 @ 5:54pm

    Another study

    Here's a story about the publishing of the controlled study in Rialto, California by the University of Cambridge (mentioned previously on Techdirt).

    http://m.phys.org/news/2014-12-scientific-police-body-worn-cameras-unacceptable-use-of-for ce.html

    "During the 12-month Rialto experiment, use-of-force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59% and reports against officers dropped by 87% against the previous year's figures."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Haggie, 27 Dec 2014 @ 5:29pm

    Now put body cams on protesters so looting and property damage can be as low as officer-involved shootings...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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