Miami-Dade Police May Start Wearing Body Cameras

In the wake of the Michael Brown saga in Missouri, more than 185,000 people have signed a Change.org petition that would require all police officers to wear body cameras.

Well, those body cameras could be coming to the Miami-Dade Police Department as soon as next year.

According to The Miami-Herald, next year's proposed county budget has earmarked $1 million for the purchase of 500 body cameras. Those cameras would record officers on duty as they interact with the public.

A police spokeswoman tells the Miami Herald that the force actually wants the cameras because they're concerned that footage recorded by citizens with their cellphones don't always tell the full story.

"You see the public is requesting for all police to be recorded. They're always recording them with their phones," said Major Nancy Perez. "This gives police a chance to record the public."

That sounds 1984-style ominous, but body cameras have been shown to have some anecdotal positive effects.

The police force in Rialto, California outfitted all of its officers with body cameras in 2012.

In the 12 months after the program began, complaints against officers dropped 88 percent. Officers use of force plummeted 60 percent.

"When you know you're being watched you behave a little better. That's just human nature," Rialto's police chief Tony Farrar told The Guardian. "As an officer you act a bit more professional, follow the rules a bit better."

Though, when the public knows their interactions with police are being filmed their behavior with police also tends to improve, and less attempts at filing bogus complaints are made. Police then spend less time and money investigating those complaints, and suspects tend to tie up the court system less when they know that police have indisputable video evidence.

Though, according to Time, experts are still divided as to whose behavior really changes more when they know they're being recorded: police or citizens.

Miami-Dade would not be the first big city police force to experiment with the technology. Police in Fresno, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake and Cincinnati have also adopted the technology.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez would need to approve the budget before the program could start.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Munzenrieder