Bodycam Advocates Now Claim Body Cameras Are A 'Threat To Civil Rights'

A civil rights group released a study that says bodycams can alter the way a police officer writes a report.

Washington, DC – Civil rights advocates demanded accountability from law enforcement agencies through the use of bodycams in the wake of the Ferguson riots.

One at a time, police departments nationwide have implemented bodycams, at considerable expense, to satisfy their critics and provide more “transparency” in law enforcement.

The result? A new report from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said that bodycams pose a “threat to civil rights.”

The report, “The Illusion of Accuracy: How Body-Worn Camera Footage Can Distort Evidence," was released on Tuesday, according to Newsweek.

A big concern listed in the report is an officer's ability to watch the footage whenever they want, including before they write incident reports.

“Unrestricted footage review places civil rights at risk and undermines the goals of transparency and accountability," Vanita Gupta, current leader of the Leadership Conference, said,

Gupta is a civil rights attorney, former ACLU director, and former acting assistant attorney general of the civil rights division under former President Obama.

The report claimed that an officer's memory of an event may be altered by watching bodycam video footage, and reports written by the officer about the incident would then also be altered.

The problem appears to be that defense attorneys can't pick at minor differences between an officer's memory and what's recorded on video.

“Video’s power to improve policing lies in the fact it makes us all eyewitness to police-civilian interactions, ranging from tragic shootings to more quotidian but nonetheless disturbing stop-and-frisks, which are common and … often unconstitutional,” the Washington Post said in an opinion column.

“Video provides compelling evidence of police misconduct and can be used to train, discipline, fire and even prosecute officers. It’s also a potent tool for exonerating officers falsely accused of misconduct. Ultimately, the aim is avoiding illegal, inappropriate police-civilian interactions, because everyone involved acts differently knowing a camera is rolling,” they wrote.

Civil rights groups don’t have a problem with bodycam footage until it’s used to exonerate a police officer, or shows that suspects and victims have threatened police, or behaved badly during a recorded incident.

At that point, bodycams become a threat to civil and constitutional rights, according to Gupta’s assessment.

The Leadership Conference, in its report, called for police departments to institute "a clean reporting policy” where an officer would write an initial report before viewing the footage.

Some policing experts, such as Lance LoRusso, disagree.

LoRusso, a former police officer and current Atlanta attorney who represents police officers, said that police officers should view the body-cam footage before writing a report.

"This specter that every time an officer looks at the video they’re going to lie and adapt their statement just is infuriating because we want the officers to write the most accurate report they can,” he said.

Since one major purpose of bodycam footage is to keep all parties involved honest and “transparent,” the Leadership Conference’s one-sided approach doesn’t make any sense.

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Damned if you do and damned if you don't. I personally think these officers should have more civil rights than any of the criminals that they deal with on a daily basis. The problem here is that the body cams show the officers doing their job the right way and it pisses the liberals off to no end.


A man entered my home after a neighborhood fight occurred,at 3:30 am.The first time I forgot to lock the front door.I fired two shots into the carpet.He quickly surrendered.When I wrote my report,I forgot to list that I three a chair at him before grabbing my weapon .Memory is in deed faulted..The 911 tape gas me saying things I could not recall in the heat of battle..keep the videos rolling.


So then..........those who use cell phones, alter/delete what they have is gospel? They only share a part of a video that would send outrage throughout communities and incite riots WITHOUT even seeing an officers video, court, etc. There are double standards here. The ACLU is a joke. Now that the body cameras will show proof from both sides of an issue it's violating the civil rights of the suspects? Give me a break. It's all so stupid and hypocritical.


It's the same thing as an officer referring to his notes while writing a report or testifying. You're never going to please liberals so don't bother trying.


Ok, the thing about the footage altering the way the report is written... The problem with memory, as with witness identification is that memory is faulty. The fact that the officer looks at the video first obviously assists in dealing with this issue. It may not be a perfect solution and cameras CAN leave stuff out. However it is more likely that a camera would be more accurate than the memory of any party involved. This would be especially true when you are talking about the memory of an officer who has handled 20+ high priority calls back to back and written several reports on say an 8 - 10 hour shift, plus possible or likely overtime, or the fact that they may work late or graveyard shift, lost sleep due to stress and endured abuse from citizens and suspects all day long. The video is a tool that is far more reliable than the human memory.

As far as a "violation of civil rights," the only issue that I might be able to imagine is the push to publish everything that the camera picks up. This has the potential to be harmful to victims and informants and the possibility of "tainting the jury pool," before a trial has taken place. Interestingly, the "advocates" that push for access to these videos, have not taken into consideration the role that their action plays in hurting the very people that they claim to care about.

As is often the case, there is little concern expressed for the civil rights of the people in law enforcement who work daily to protect those very rights. Cameras have played an important role both from the side of law enforcement and from the side of citizens who have had their cameras on at crucial times. However, there are many who have turned their cameras into tools to bully law enforcement at all hours of the day and night. Officers should feel free to carry out their daily duties without the hindrance of someone shoving a camera in their face. Civil rights groups would serve well to focus attention on finding solutions to this very delicate and complex issue.