The next time you get pulled over for speeding, you might be on camera. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier announced this morning that some MPD officers will start wearing body cameras as part of a years-long program to roll out the cameras to the entire force.
Police will be using five different types of cameras, including cameras that are mounted on officers’ chests, around their collars, and in glasses. In the initial test, 160 officers will be wearing the cameras to see how they work on a shift.
‘This gives us that independent, unbiased witness,” Lanier said.
Police departments that have tried the body cameras have seen drops in both police use of force and complaints against officers, but Lanier’s hopes for an “unbiased witness” to police encounters may be overstated. Vince Gray said the August shooting of teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., wasn’t behind MPD’s new pilot program.
Officers will have their cameras on whenever they’re out of the station on calls, according to Lanier. The videos from the cameras, which officers will be able to turn off in locker rooms or bathrooms, will be available to Freedom of Information Act requests.
MPD’s Fraternal Order of Police union local backs the cameras, which won’t be checked to monitor officers unless they’re involved in disputed incidents.
Lanier said she didn’t expect officers’ behavior to change, since they’re already aware of the many surveillance cameras mounted around the District.
“We’re the last people to get cameras, right?” she said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery