Body cameras in DeKalb will hold police to higher standards

By Payton Higgins

Police body cameras are an essential piece of equipment in any modern police department. The DeKalb County Board has been encouraging the DeKalb County Sheriff’s office to obtain and equip themselves with body cameras. The DeKalb police will be held to a higher degree of accountability and will produce a higher level of transparency through this.

The arrest of Elonte McDowell, Aurora, on Aug. 27 sparked controversy about police accountability. McDowell was pulled over near Annie Glidden after police received information that he was transporting drugs. When police searched the vehicle they found “a felony-amount of cannabis,” according to a police release. Captured on video, McDowell is seen being choked by an officer and stunned with a stun gun during the arrest. 

A recent community meeting saw residents express concern for better police accountability and the McDowell case. 

McDowell attempted to flee when officers approached him. Meanwhile, McDowell suggested the arrest was an example of police brutality, according to the release

Another case that increased the call for police body cameras was the shooting of Michael Brown. The unarmed 18-year-old was shot six times from the front by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson Missouri in 2014. 

Similar to the McDowell case, each side of the story blamed the other for the incident. Officer Darren Wilson said the altercation was initiated by Brown. Dorian Johnson, who accompanied Brown during the incident, gave an account contrary to Wilson’s. He said Wilson grabbed Brown by the neck through the car window before threatening and shooting at him. Wilson did not have a body camera during this altercation. If he had, there would have been conclusive video evidence as to what really happened. Wilson resigned shortly after a grand jury decided not to indict him, according to Vox. 

Cases like McDowells have pushed police to equip themselves with body cameras. The lack of trust that has developed between the public and the police into cases such as these needs to be mended. The implementation of these cameras creates a new source of evidence and accountability that will hopefully help to heal that trust. 

The Cato Institute found in a poll that 92% of Americans support equipping police officers with body cameras. They also found that 55% of Americans were willing to pay higher taxes to outfit local law enforcement with body cameras. With such overwhelming support, it was only a matter of time for police to make the implementation. Despite it taking this long for DeKalb police to equip themselves with body cameras, it’s good to see it finally being done. 

The DeKalb Police could not be reached for comment.