By: Duke Staff
Earlier this month, Point Park University began mandating that its campus police officers wear body cameras while on patrol. This makes Point Park the first college in Pennsylvania to adopt such a policy.
In the official announcement of this change, the university cited several reasons for the change, including people acting less aggressive when recorded, a greater degree of accuracy in reports and improved protection for the campus officers from wrongful misconduct accusations.
With tensions between police and the general populace are at an all-time high, this change is a welcome one. Protests — and even riots — have broken out over vague stories of police confrontations, such as those in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray last year, and it has become increasingly difficult to tell which side is speaking the truth.
Along with this, cameras can help diffuse situations all on their own. A Point Park officer was able to stop a fight from breaking out merely by telling the participants that his camera was recording them, Police Chief Jeff Besong in an interview with 90.5 WESA.
But should Duquesne Police follow suit? After all, our quaint little campus so very rarely encounters major violent crime, and the police mostly deal with drunken students more than anything serious. It would be easy to write this off as a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.
That is, until something does happen. While it might be hard to imagine a scenario where accusations of excessive force are thrown at Duquesne Police, whether true or false, it could happen. Such an incident could bring major scandal to the campus, sharply divide the student body and bring a plethora of other issues.
It is always better to be safe than be sorry, as the saying goes. With the idea of body cameras becoming ever more popular, perhaps it is time for Duquesne to join in. After all, Pittsburgh police have had to use body cameras since 2014. Should we not hold our own police to the same standards?
Beyond accountability, body cameras keep our own officers safe. Being told they are being recorded could discourage many would-be-criminals.
While police body cameras are not cheap, coming in at around $300 minimum each, this is a worthy use of the money students give to Duquesne, one that will keep both them and their officers much safer for years to come.
The world of law enforcement is evolving, and this is a great chance for our campus to get ahead of the curve and embrace the future. Until then, we are just waiting for something bad to happen for which we could have been prepared.