Students debate effectiveness of police body cameras

Kyle Klucas, junior in political science, discuss the successes of police officers wearing body cameras as an effective solution to ending police brutality at the Union Program Council's Spring Debate Series in the student union on January 21, 2015. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

Students and faculty met in the K-State Student Union courtyard at 12:20 p.m. Wednesday for the Union Program Council’s Spring Debate Series to discuss police brutality. Kyle Klucas, junior in political science, and Bryan Stebbins, sophomore in women’s studies, debated if police officers wearing body cameras is an effective solution to ending police brutality.

“Why should we believe that the cameras will make things better?” Stebbins said.

According to Klucas, the police department in Rialto, California has reduced reported crimes by 60 percent as well as complaints against the police department by 88 percent after the implementation of the cameras. Other regions are shown to have similar statistics.

“The cameras have been a rousing success,” Klucas said.

Stebbins argued that these statistics could easily be manipulated, as Klucas was unable to provide individual cases in which the cameras had helped a victim of police brutality.

According to Stebbins, the cameras would not be used appropriately to give power back to the people from the court system and police departments. Using Eric Garner and other cases as examples, Stebbins said that even though there was cell phone footage that proved police brutality against the victims, nothing was done.

“There are enough cameras,” Stebbins said.

Stebbins said he felt there needed to be a mind-set shift in which the police would be accountable for their actions. He also said he questioned if using the cameras would actually establish trust between the police and citizens.

“The only way to trust police officers is to always watch them?” Stebbins said.

Klucas said that the cameras are not a complete solution. There still needs to be an analysis of the underlying problems of police brutality, but he said that the cameras can help with that mission.

“We need to take a step-by-step approach to a mind-set shift,” Klucas said.

Students, including Lucia Scott, junior in communication studies, and Luke Hartman, junior in electrical engineering, watched the debate. Both said they agreed that the debate provided good information.

“I didn’t even realize there had been any studies (on the use of body cameras),” Scott said.

Hartman said that he and Scott learned a lot about the effectiveness of body cameras by the police force between the two sides of the debate.

Kelsey Kendall
Hi everyone! I'm a senior in journalism and cultural anthropology. My favorite things are storytelling, coffee and meeting new people. In that order.