A voluminous body of research across various disciplines has shown that when humans become self-conscious about being watched, they often alter their conduct. Accumulated evidence further suggests that individuals who are aware that they being-observed often embrace submissive or commonly-accepted behavior, particularly when the observer is a rule-enforcing entity. What is less known, however, is what happens when the observer is not a “real person”, and whether being videotaped can have an effect on aggression and violence.
The Albuquerque department has been the subject of a Justice Department investigation in which body cameras were adopted in 2012 in the wake of controversy over police shootings, along with a requirement that officers use them to document civilian encounters.However, the cameras have hardly proven to be a solution to the department's problems. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico has been leading the way in pushing for reform of the Albuquerque police department, with its advocacy having for example played a key role in prompting the Justice Department's investigation.
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The introduction of law enforcement body cameras raises a number of questions for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. At the core of these questions is the issue of how best to increase accountability and oversight of police officers’ conduct while not increasing and enhancing the explosion of surveillance and information gathering already being conducted by government. This memorandum was developed by the ACLU of Illinois outlining the privacy safeguards they believe necessary to keep the focus on accountability and oversight of police, and preventing the use of body cams from becoming another broad surveillance tool.