Some thorny details need to be clarified before D.C. police go ahead with a pilot project. Chief among them is how and when the cameras are activated. If individual officers are allowed complete discretion, the cameras will be of little use; but if the cameras are rolling for an officer’s entire shift, problems will arise involving privacy and good policing. (Some informants will get cold feet if they know they’re being filmed, and victims of some crimes may be inhibited from providing testimony.)
The Police Complaints Board has recommended establishing a task force to set such policies — as well as ones related to storage, retention and access of the recordings and how to notify citizens that they are being recorded. The task force would consist of police officials, police union representatives, prosecutors, defense lawyers, civil liberties advocates and crime victims, among others. In general, the more that this footage can be gathered and put to use, the better.