As of April 1, police officers in West Palm Beach, Florida have begun wearing body cameras. The new measure was implemented in order to dispel negative public opinions about police practices and procedures. The cameras consist of tiny cylinders that can be clipped onto collars, hats, or sunglasses. Each camera is approximately three inches long and weights only three ounces. The West Palm Beach Police Department began training their officers on how to use the devices on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, making the agency one of the first in South Florida to implement recording technology.
Other regions of the United States are also turning to cameras to help improve public perception of police activities. Additionally, President Barack Obama has proposed $75 million in funding for programs to assist police departments in purchasing cameras with the hope of improving police-community relations. West Palm Beach has allocated roughly $200,000 in city funding to purchase the cameras and has set future funding for the program at an additional $615,000. So far, 50 cameras have been implemented with the ultimate goal of 250 cameras in use by 2016.
How can these devices help you in your DUI defense case? Many cases come down to a simple he-said, she-said argument. An audio or video recording of a particular interaction between an officer and a defendant can provide powerful ammunition during negotiations or at trial. First, one of the key strategies in a DUI defense case is ensuring that the arresting officer made an accurate report of the events that transpired. The prosecution and the judge will rely heavily on this report, despite what the defendant may say in response. Many times, police officers forget certain details, copy portions of older reports from previous cases, or bend the truth. A video recording will combat these inaccurate reporting practices and shed light on what actually happened in a particular situation. For example, the officer may write in the report that the defendant failed a particular test, while the video shows that the defendant performed satisfactorily.