The Debate over Police Body Cameras

The Plain Dealer reported yesterday that the Cleveland Police Department just bought 1,500 body cameras for their officers. NPR has been covering the growing debate over body cameras and has homed in on the key issue: balancing transparency and privacy.

As for the concern expressed by some that police officers shouldn’t have their actions (especially in tense, high-pressured situations) be subject to public scrutiny, I would note that another group of professionals—lawyers—have never enjoyed the luxury of toiling away in private. The papers they file in court (pleadings, motions, briefs) and their live performances (at trial) are mandated by the First Amendment to be open to the public. We are all familiar with the high-stakes trials frequently shown on TV.

Lawyers represent people whose property, liberty, and (sometimes) lives hang in the balance, yet their actions are on display for the whole world to see—and scrutinize. I’m not sure police officers should get more favorable treatment.


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