Charlotte law enforcement are beginning to train their officers to use body cameras, a wearable camera that documents traffic stops and interactions between police officers and citizens. The goal of this new technology will be to eliminate discrepancies between police reports and testimonies by providing real, documented proof of the events.
“This will be a helpful tool for DWI cases,” said Thomas Bumgardner, a Charlotte DWI lawyer. “Courts sometimes wrongly assume that a police report is 100 percent accurate, when that is not always the case.”
Do Body Cams Work for the Public?
A Wall Street Journal investigation in California regarding law enforcement’s use of body cams found that, “In the first year after the cameras’ introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60 percent, and citizen complaints against police fell 88 percent.” They suggest that the reason for this result is very simple, all parties involved are held accountable. Police officers know that their superiors will have access to the documented footage and this encourages them to act as if someone were watching.
What Does This Mean for Charlotte DWI Cases?
Today, evidence in a DWI case is given in the form of a police report. This report outlines what the officer saw that made them suspicious, what actions they took to verify their suspicions and the results of their findings. As stated before, these reports are not always accurate – they are written hours after the incident occurred. This means that memories can be forgotten and it also offers the potential for opinion to replace fact.
With the use of body cams, an unfiltered representation of the events will be documented in real-time. The video will be able to substantiate or disprove accusations of bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and other behaviors indicative of intoxication. If the suspected drunk driver chooses to perform a field sobriety test, the footage will clearly show whether they passed or failed – it will no longer be the officer’s word versus the defendant’s account.
What are the Negative Aspects of Body Cams
There are some political leaders and members of the general public who are opposed to the idea of Charlotte police being equipped with these devices. They claim that it is an invasion of privacy and it costs too much to equip every officer.
The officers have the ability to turn off the camera to protect citizens in certain cases, but to prevent dishonest practices, they are required to state the reason they will be disabling the recording function. While it may be an expensive new policy, equipping police officers with body cameras will vastly improve the quality and integrity of care and protection the CMPD is able to provide.
What do I do if I Have Been Charged With a DWI?
It is recommended that you consult with an experienced DWI lawyer to discuss your next steps. Hiring the right attorney could make all of the difference when fighting your charge or minimizing your sentence. Thomas D. Bumgardner is a Charlotte DWI lawyer with years of experience defending his clients against aggressive prosecutors. Call us at 704.887.4981 to schedule a free consultation