No matter what crime someone is believed to have committed, they still have rights under the constitution.
Yet events of the past few years have highlighted that, in some cases, people never get to use these rights. You can’t take up your right to a lawyer and have a trial by jury if you’re already dead.
Most people dread the thought of the police stopping them because it could bring them legal problems. Certain sectors of society, especially young Black males, fear they might not survive the encounter.
Some police have been wearing bodycams for years
Body camera footage has helped discipline or prosecute police officers who have acted inappropriately (or in some cases murderously) toward the people they stopped. Hence many would argue that all police should wear bodycams all the time.
Some Georgia officers already do wear them
For example, Columbus Police officers and Muscogee County Sheriff’s Deputies have them. However, some police forces do not have them, especially in rural areas. Other officers have them but fail to switch them on. Others use them but edit out the bits they don’t want people to see.
Lawmakers presented a new bill to make their use mandatory and to prohibit editing footage. However, it is not the first time they’ve tried – a 2021 attempt failed.
It’s not just about extreme cases
The police must follow specific protocols when stopping someone, conducting searches, questioning people or making arrests. They cannot breach people’s constitutional rights.
If you stand accused of a crime, having access to complete and unedited police bodycam footage of the event will allow your legal team to see if the police behaved as they should and check their version of events. Spotting anomalies could be key to beating the charges you face.