Fort Lauderdale, FL The Broward County Police Benevolent Association (BCPBA) has released the results of an opinion survey on body-worn cameras by rank-and-file City of Hallandale Beach police officers. The complete survey report may be found at the bcpba.org website.
The union notified the City of Hallandale Beach of the survey and allowed input before being completed and mailed on June 3, 2015. The survey was sent to law enforcement officers from the rank of sergeant and below, not just to those officers participating in the pilot program.
Following is a summary of the survey conclusions:
- Nearly 67 percent of survey respondents were decidedly against the adoption of a body worn camera program for front line officers. Only 13 percent expressed support for this idea.
- Ninety-five percent of officers responding felt cameras would divert significant resources away from more pressing needs.
- Ninety-five percent of officers felt body worn cameras would limit their discretion in the field.
- Approximately 87 percent of respondents fear cameras will be used as a disciplinary tool by management to punish minor infractions.
- Over 80 percent of officers say that citizens will be reluctant to share information with police if they know they are being recorded.
- The majority of officers (42 percent) agree that body worn cameras will increase police transparency and accountability while 33 percent disagreed.
- A major concern for officers (87 percent) was the potential for exposure of police tactics, crime scenes and secured areas with the release of body worn camera footage.
- Forty-seven percent of respondents disputed the “civilizing” effect of cameras on police and citizen behavior with 38 percent agreeing that cameras may result in better behavior by both parties.
- Forty-four percent of officers said they would be less willing to answer calls for service if they are required to wear cameras.
- Officers did agree (62 percent) that cameras provide an evidentiary tool and a means to settle disputes.
- Officers expressed extreme pessimism that wearing cameras would make them safer on the job (73 percent).
Included in the survey report are comments from officers. One comment summed up the feelings of many: “I think officers will be worried only about their cameras and forgo safety. Officers will second guess themselves on personal safety and get hurt.”
Another respondent itemized several concerns: “Camera limitations: doesn’t see what the officer sees. Can’t acknowledge physiological & psychological phenomena officers experience under high stress. Some important danger cues like ‘tensioning’ of a subject are not recorded but experienced by officer – we may feel sensory clues that a camera does not. Camera may have better ‘eyes’ than a particular officer (i.e., no 20/20 vision, low light conditions). Officer liabilities: not protected by current legislation in Florida… Primary issues: Officers & citizens, cameras may provide negative issues/sensitive subject matter to be disclosed by public records requests.” (Item #1)
Statement from BCPBA President
“Based on discussions and opinions of officers throughout the country, and as reflected in the survey results from Hallandale Beach, the negative impact of implementing a body-worn camera program is clear,” said Jeff Marano, President of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association. “There were no surprises. It’s just as we predicted.”
The Broward County Police Benevolent Association is the largest law enforcement union serving Broward County. BCPBA is a non-profit organization providing labor relations assistance and collective bargaining services for its members. Our mission is to promote professionalism in law enforcement and to protect the rights and privileges of individual law enforcement officers and civilian employees, as well as to keep citizens informed of the challenges facing law enforcement today. We are active in community events including those that support and honor law enforcement.
Read the survey report at the BCPBA website.