A couple of months ago in the wake of Ferguson Missouri and a shooting involving a Savannah Police Officer the WTOC Editorial Board expressed the opinion that Police officers should be equipped with body cameras. This past Sunday Beaufort Sheriff PJ Tanner told the Island Packet that his officers would not be wearing body cameras to record video of incidents, that they already have in-car cameras, audio recorders and video recorded interrogation rooms.
Then Sheriff Tanner made an even bigger point: "Let's have senators and House members wear them too if they're looking for transparency," he said.
Sheriff Tanner's comments raise a number of issues currently being debated: what are the mechanics of the recording: are the body cameras recording all the time and thereby becoming an intrusive presence both for the officer and everyone he encounters? And who has access to that video? And what will it cost to store and manage that much data?
Conversely if the officer triggers the recording only during an incident what guarantee does the public have that he records all of the information from every incident.
We still believe that body cameras are a good idea – that they help guarantee good policing practices and will buttress the public's confidence in law enforcement with clear evidence.
But Sheriff Tanner's points are thoughtful and valid.