Jay Stanley of the ACLU writes:
We’re starting to get questions about the use of body cameras by “school resource officers,” a.k.a. police officers stationed in schools.
First of all, we don’t think that police officers should be routinely present in schools at all. Traditionally, police have not been involved in schools outside of genuine emergencies and serious crimes, but more and more police officers are being permanently stationed at schools. This contributes to the criminalization of many routine school disciplinary matters that have never before been handled through the criminal justice system, and the strengthening of what we call the school-to-prison pipeline.
As with body cameras worn by building inspectors, body cameras in schools just don’t strike the right balance in terms of oversight versus privacy.
To begin with, police officers, when in schools, should not regularly be engaging in the type of law enforcement efforts that would require them to wear body cameras. The activities of police, on the rare occasions when operating in schools is justified, should be closely and actively monitored by school officials, not by body cameras. My colleagues who work on these issues tell me there is a genuine need for increased accountability for the actions of police in schools—but what is needed are not cameras, but measures such as the collection of data on arrests, and MOUs between schools and police departments.
Read more on ACLU.
I don’t agree with Jay on this one, as there have been too many abuses in the schools, and children are either not believed or if they are seriously disabled, are often unable to communicate what has happened to them. The use of body cameras may make police think twice about grabbing a student or slamming them up against a wall or taking them down.
Yes, other measures are needed, and I don’t like the trend over the past 25 years of having more “school resource officers” or police in schools, but Jay’s suggestions just won’t stop the serious problems that have occurred and will continue to occur.
If you want to strike a balance, then delete the body cam tape each day if there have been no incidents. Students are already used to being under watchful eyes in most schools. Body cams on police won’t worsen that problem and may help prevent other problems.