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Oversight Board Finds DC Police Use Body Cams Improperly in More than One-Third of Investigated Cases

By: Allan M. Siegel

The Office of Police Complaints is an oversight board that presides over the Metropolitan Police Department. Recently, the OPD reviewed 773 cases this past year in which there was a complaint of misconduct by an officer. According to a report issued in late October, the OPD found that in more than one-third of those cases, at least one involved officer did not use their body cam properly. In 13 percent of these cases, at least one officer at the scene failed to turn on their body cam at all.

Body cams are currently worn by about 2,800 officers of the Metropolitan Police Department, most of whom are in patrol. These body cams were distributed to officers by December of 2016. As current events around the country have shown, body cams are a valuable tool to deter police abuse, and to make sure that there is an accurate and objective record of what happened when there is an allegation of police misconduct.

On the other hand, when body cams aren’t turned on, it can create confusion about what happened at the scene of alleged police misconduct, and create suspicion that police are trying to hide the facts. To take one example, in September of 2016, an unarmed, black motorcyclist was shot to death by a D.C. police officer who failed to turn on his body cam. That incident is still under investigation.

Thanks to advancing technology, we now have more tools to make sure that the people who are entrusted with the duty of enforcing law and order do not abuse the citizens the police are supposed to work for – and, if necessary, we have better means of proving police misconduct when it does happen. If you or anyone you know has been injured due to police misconduct, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. for a free consultation.