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Police chief writes about the potential "invasion of privacy" that body cameras could bring

Jan 6, 2015

Police lights.
Credit J J / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Eric Garner while being arrested in New York City have fired up the conversation about body cameras for police.

Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Lowell in Kent County are all beginning to outfit their officers with body cameras.

Grand Rapids police are seriously considering them.

But there are a host of challenging privacy issues being uncorked here.

David Oliver is Chief of the Brimfield, Ohio Police Department. He recently went on Facebook and posted an open letter about police body cameras that caught our eye.

He’s in favor of them, but he says citizens might not be thinking through the other side of this.

He writes:

Local law enforcement will now become one more spoke in the big wheel of government, taping our interaction with all of YOU. When you call us to your home, we will arrive and hit “record.” The barking dog, neighbor dispute, burglary, identity theft, custody disputes and more will be recorded. When we come to your house for a domestic or a custody/divorce issue, what we record is all public record. Your neighbors, ex-spouses and even enemies can request a copy…and we must provide it. Shortly after that, it will arrive on You Tube. A couple of companies will form on the inter-web, consisting of nothing but body cam footage. It will be a constant, 24 hours per day, seven days per week episode of “Cops”…starring the ordinary American citizen. We get dozens of requests per year for written reports, usually in divorce or neighbor dispute cases. Those could now come with video. Yikes.

Listen to our conversation with Oliver below.