SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Body cameras were a key part of the District Attorney’s use of force investigation in the deadly shooting of Orlando Taylor III.
22News spoke with Doctor Brian Rizzo, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Westfield State and a retired police sergeant. He said that while body cameras can be a useful tool, they can still come with limitations.
“It’s not the same line of sight, it’s not the same angles, and it doesn’t depict the motion,” he told 22News. “You can’t put yourself in that officer’s position and that’s the problem.” He said body camera footage can be useful in cross referencing it with officers’ accounts of the events, like if the suspect was running away or running towards an officer when they decide to open fire.
“It shows how far away the person was and their gestures,” Doctor Rizzo said. “But sometimes nuances and threatening gestures aren’t caught on film.” Doctor Rizzo said when footage like this is reviewed for an investigation, it can’t be slowed down for analysis. It’s more used as context for the environment officers face.
Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood with the Springfield Police Department said that while implementing the body camera program was initially met with resistance, officers now see it as a way to show transparency.
“We understand we have to get the public’s trust and we want to be transparent and we think the body-worn camera is just another way of doing that,” Clapprood said.
Springfield Police does require body cameras on both plain clothed and uniformed officers with some exceptions, like student resource officers.