Civil rights and technology experts have been reviewing the body camera policies of 25 police departments. They’ve found that if the goals of body camera systems are transparency and accountability, then police departments have room for improvement.
The review looked at eight important criteria to determine how open and accountable a department is regarding its body camera system.
Dallas fared mostly well, according to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, but when there is an officer-involved shooting, Dallas and most departments allow for officers to review the video before writing their account of what happened.
The group says if witnesses can't review video before they give a statement, officers shouldn’t be able to, either. Police say that's comparing apples and oranges.
“In those situations, it allows the officer enough time to work through that time period of being involved in a highly stressful situation to know and understand really what happened in their own minds before they give a written assessment of what occurred,” said Deputy Chief Andy Acord with the Dallas Police Department.
Acord feels that the cameras, along with other policy changes, have played a part in a reduction of complaints against officers.
“Allegations against officers for unnecessary force are, I think, reported at 10 year to date for 2015,” said Acord.
“For the entire year?” said FOX 4’s Shaun Rabb.
“Yes, sir,” said Acord.
“And that’s a big difference from times past,” said Rabb.
“A huge difference,” said Acord.
Overall, Acord says the rank and file have embraced the body cameras systems.
“They feel like they can’t go to work without ‘em, and the officers who don’t have ‘em want ‘em,” said Acord.
While DPD was not at the top in every category in the review, Dallas in the middle of the pack and other cities have turned to DPD looking at its policy as they craft their own.