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Cops shouldn’t view body-cam video before writing reports

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2022 | Police Brutality

Body-cam videos reveal extensive information about a crime that is in progress. A video shows what the suspect was doing at the start of the encounter, how the police officer reacted and what the results were. Although it’s meant to mitigate bad behavior from officers, some individuals decide to view their body-cam videos before writing their police reports. This option will allow cops in New Jersey to alter video evidence illegally in ways that protect themselves.

The problems with viewing body-cam videos

Body cams are designed to increase transparency and reveal all forms of police brutality and misconduct. However, some police officers view themselves committing crimes on body-cam videos and decide to destroy or alter the evidence. Some cops write inaccurate details of the event that are inconsistent with the footage in the video. They should not be given any opportunity to modify the videos that could be used as evidence in court.

Another problem with body-cam videos is having to view images that are unclear or inconclusive. A cop may write unintentionally inaccurate details based on unclear images in a video. After watching an unclear video, a cop may feel inclined to fill in the unclear blanks and create a distorted version of the events.

Protecting the rights of the public

The images that are seen in body-cam videos and the statements in police reports may differ significantly. Cops who are caught doing illegal acts on camera may try to alter reality in their police reports. Even worse, they may try to destroy the video evidence. It’s usually not in the public’s best interest for police officers to watch the videos before they create their reports.