OPINION: Body cams for USFPD officers could lead to a promising future

The USF Police Department needs to implement body cams for their officers in order to improve safety on campus. ORACLE PHOTO/CLINTON ENGELBERGER

There has been a recent growing push for the USF Police Department (USFPD) to implement body cams, with a student petition going around last month, according to a Feb. 14 article from The Oracle.

USFPD is not yet using body cams due to a lack of funding and technological reasons, as the cameras use a lot of data that needs to be stored, according to the article. 

They need to prioritize allocating more resources so that they are able to start using body cams as quickly as possible.

Having body cams on campus could help paint a clearer picture on what exactly occurred at the scene of a crime, especially if it was severe enough to get sent to trial.

This footage has been used most frequently in instances of domestic violence. Thanks to the use of body cameras, police officers were able to record instances of romantic partners engaging in abusive behavior, according to a 2018 report from Phys.Org

Colleges can be exceptionally hazardous when it comes to abusive relationships, with one in three college women saying they’ve been abused in a relationship, and one in six saying they were sexually abused, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The use of body cameras could help prevent young women from being further engulfed in these toxic relationships.

Body cams can also be helpful in capturing instances of misconduct by officers. The use of force by police officers dropped 10% when they wore cameras, according to a 2021 research paper by the University of Chicago. 

This has been shown on several occasions in recent years. These cameras most notably help prove instances of violence against African Americans, such as the recent murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, according to a Jan. 27 article from CNN

A protest even occurred near the USF Tampa campus in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, showing the concern Tampa citizens and students have over misconduct by law enforcement, according to a 2020 report from Florida Politics. The use of body cameras on campus would be able to prove instances of officers acting out of line, and prevent them from engaging in further instances of unscrupulous behavior.

Some have argued that the use of body cameras could be seen as an invasion of privacy, particularly for people with mental illnesses, or even domestic violence victims, according to a 2021 study from ProCon.org

The use of body cams is extremely important in increasing safety and holding officers accountable. While some may be concerned, the benefits of these cameras far outweigh the possible downfalls. 

Body cameras are one of the major technological advancements that help stop criminal behavior, and more and more police departments are adding them to their resources. The addition of body cameras will help pave the way for a safer USF campus.