Body cams at last
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - October 5, 2020 - 12:00am

This October the new PNP Chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan will implement the use of body cams by the PNP particularly in anti-drug operations. About 2,600 body cams will be used by the police. The devices will be subjected to a "functional testing" period on October 12 before being officially used by the police.

This has been a long time coming. Calls for the police to use body cams began when the controversial Oplan Tokhang or the bloody anti-drug campaign under then PNP chief Dela Rosa, obviously under orders from President Duterte began. Many deaths attributed by the police as self-defense came into question. But when it became clear the police version of Kian Delos Santos' death was entirely different from the available CCTV footage, the call for body cams intensified. That was in 2017. A winning bidder was chosen only last December. A proposed purchase of 12,476 body cams was supposedly made last June of 2018. Why it took this long to finally find a supplier is anyone's guess. The delivery of the 2,600 body cams was delayed by the global pandemic.

It is reassuring for the police to finally use body cams. Hopefully, there will no longer be reasons to stall their use. But I'm still apprehensive by the fact that the angle of view of these devices can easily be diverted or even turned off so they capture nothing. Several times have the police diverted CCTV views when conducting operations citing protecting the identities of the operatives, an explanation unacceptable. The whole reason for a CCTV is to capture whatever goes on in its field of view. This administration often says if there is nothing to hide, then there is nothing to fear from the law. What if law enforcers have something to hide? This can also be said of the Ombudsman's action to stop lifestyle checks and no longer making public the SALNs of government employees and officials. What are they hiding?

In the US, police officers are suspended or fired after body cam footage reveals what transpired during an incident. Dash cam footage also becomes useful. There are also literally thousands of private CCTV cameras pointed at almost every spot, providing useful footage in the event of a crime or anything for that matter. These serve to protect the citizens. There is no argument when these cameras catch criminals in the act. Body cams also give protection to the police to justify their actions. Hopefully the same can be said of the use of body cams by the PNP. It's about time.

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