While Trying to Improve Cop-Community Relations, Are Body-Worn Cameras Creating a Wider Divide?

Yesterday, I had an experience with advances in law enforcement technologies that had me reflecting on police-community relations. Political leaders in many jurisdictions are constantly calling for better understanding, more confidence, and enhanced trust between communities and their law enforcement officers. With regard to police officers’ body-worn cameras, are the advocates truly considering all the consequences?

I was walking with my wife on a popular walk-bike path. As we were headed back to our car, we met two Seattle cops. I knew both officers. But, instead of the friendly, relaxed greeting most cops give each other, the officers had a strange, hesitant expression, almost as if they wanted to apologize. One officer said, “You’re being video recorded. I gotta turn this thing off. We didn’t find who we were looking for anyway.” The other officer added, “But you’re still being audio recorded.” They seemed uncomfortable and guarded.