Modern technology in squad cars can be beneficial to police officers on many levels. Technological advances help provide information on MDTs, communicate with other officers and dispatchers, and record traffic stops and other activities that officers complete on a daily basis. But, is there something to be concerned about with all of this, especially from the officer’s perspective?
In a recent incident in my community, a man pulled over for speeding filed a complaint against the Lincolnshire police officer who stopped him because he did not like the way that he was treated on the traffic stop. The man set up a meeting with the chief of police to review the video from the traffic stop and discuss his feelings. As the article mentions, the officers should know that their microphones are live while their cameras are on - and that they should be more cognizant of the way that they speak about citizens (especially when they are being recorded).
Take a look at the video here and see what you think:
In this situation, nothing that either officer or the dispatcher was illegal. While it may not have been the best decision ever, the officers were not punished for their behavior. In my opinion, actions like this by the officers could have been saved for a smarter time - such as when they were at the station or talking in person elsewhere. Through my experience on ride-alongs and other activities that I have participated in with law enforcement, I understand that there are people who make officers frustrated or nervous, and what comes out of their mouth isn’t always high on the priority list.
According to the Kustom Signals website, the company who manufactures the in-car cameras that the Lincolnshire Police Department uses in its squad cars, the in-car camera and microphone are automatically activated when the lights on the car are turned on – and also record the 30 seconds prior to the lights being turned on.
Here is the website for Kustom Signals if you would like more information about the in-car cameras or other law enforcement technology.
The key here, in my opinion, is that there is a time and place for everything. I don't think that there is necessarily anything wrong with the officers' behavior (especially because he felt nervous with the citizen reaching into his pocket), and while he should have explained the tickets at the end of the stop, he was polite and professional at the beginning (not on this version of the video). If the citizen had not called to complain to the chief, then this video would probably not be on the internet, both of the tickets would have been prosecuted, and everyone would be on their way. Because I, along with many other members of this class, plan to go into law enforcement, I think that this incident is a good opportunity to remind everyone to be careful what you say and when you say it – but most importantly, to always act in a professional manner.
As I mentioned before, the officers involved in this situation were not disciplined at all. The chief took this as an opportunity to review proper procedure on traffic stops as well as police professionalism with all of his officers – not only the two involved.