The Boston Globe published a strong editorial taking the Boston Police Department to task for their insufficient body camera pilot program:

"It appears that the City of Boston will have to drag its police department into the 21st century, despite its kicking and screaming. For a force that prides itself on community policing, the Boston Police Department is strikingly oblivious to demands from its community for more accountability through the use of body cameras.

"Mayor Walsh should insist — and the BPD needs to accept — that body cameras are coming, and the department should work in good faith to deploy them fairly and expeditiously rather than designing them to fail."

The BPD's pilot program will provide 100 cameras to officers on a voluntary basis beginning in June of this year.

The voluntary aspect of the program is problematic. In the New York Police Department, for instance, a voluntary pilot program with 54 wearable cameras was deployed a little over a year ago. Officers kept the cameras off and had to turn them on to record an interaction. But compliance wasn’t enforced and, not surprisingly, that resulted in only 15 minutes of footage, on average, per officer’s shift.

There are many other important questions that the City Council should ask: How should videos be released to the public? Should the cameras capture biometric information? How long should footage be stored? Should officers be allowed to review footage before they write their reports? And what should be the consequences of policy violations?

But the one question that has already been asked and answered is whether body cameras are coming to the streets of Boston. They are — for everyone’s safety.

Read the full article: Body cameras are coming - the Boston Police Dept. needs to accept it

Learn about body cams and read our model policy here

Stay informed

ACLU of Massachusetts is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National