Pros and cons of using cameras for law enforcement
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:53:43 GMT —
Technology. Some call it a blessing and a curse, but the law community is calling it, itsâ?? savior. Thatâ??s because technology has become the most credible witness.
Hannibal Police Department bought lapel cameras last year and say they are worth it.
One high ranking officer says, in today's world, they are needed.
"For several reasons, it helps documents crime scenes, it provides real time evidence for the prosecutor which helps in prosecutions and as well as investigate complaints against officers," Lt. John Zerbonia, of the Hannibal Police Department, said.
Hannibal PD uses both body and car cameras. Each have audio and video.
The lapel cameras are controlled by the officer who wears them. Lt. Zerbonia says each officer is encouraged to turn them every time they come in contact with a citizen.
The cameras in the cars automatically turn on when the police lights are flashing.
Hannibal's cameras automatically download when the police car pulls into the station.
The only people who have access to the video are high ranking officers in the department.
One lawyer says those elements can stop a case before it goes to trial.
"I know this is going to surprise you, but witnesses lie, cameras don't lie, they have made things so much easier," Drew Schnack, of Schnack Law Offices, said.
Schnack does recognize there is a gray area.
"Interpretation, you know, all witnesses see things differently. Most attorneys will tell you the more witnesses you have, the more problems you are going to have because it's a matter of perception," Schnack said.
He also adds cameras can help and also hurt the situation.
"The only problems we see with cameras are sometimes they malfunction, they don't get turned on and most of them don't come on automatically but you would like to have a little but more but that's always case, you always want more whether you are defense or prosecution," Schnack said
But both sides agree on the following â?¦ "Itâ??s an independent witness that doesn't lie," Lt. Zerbonia said.