Purpose of police video footage questioned

Updated For 2021

Many people in Arizona may be aware that police, sheriff and other members of law enforcement agencies may wear cameras on their uniforms and take video of different situations including those in which people may be or are ultimately arrested. This practice is not specific to Arizona as departments all around the nation have been putting police body camera technology to use for a while now. However, some people are beginning to question the purpose of taking these videos.

Some have indicated that a primary goal of capturing video footage of police encounters with the public is to increase police accountability and reduce instances of police misconduct or brutality. If such things took place, the video footage could be used to hold officers accountable. But what appears to some to have been happening is that the footage that is captured by the police body cameras is used more for actual law enforcement than it is for such officer accountability.

One defense attorney reported that he was unable to officially receive footage in a case where his clients were potentially facing criminal charges because the department involved said the footage was needed for the ongoing investigation. In other words, police could view it but defense teams could not. There are currently no consistent standards for the use, storage or release of video footage.

Arizona defendants who are interested in viewing any video taking during their arrest may want to talk with an attorney to learn how they can best defend themselves and have their rights protected.

Source: KNAU.org, “Should The Police Control Their Own Body Camera Footage?” Martin Kaste, May 25, 2017


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