The Police Department has called the cameras another tool in the crime-fighting kit, but it doesn’t track the data of how useful the footage might have been in investigations and convicting the accused.
But the cameras have since become more than just a crime-fighting tool. They have also become a tool exploited by defense lawyers who often seek footage from the cameras to exonerate falsely accused clients. Nearly one-third of 109 requests for footage made last year came from defense attorneys. Criminal defendants have been cleared or had charges reduced when footage proved their alibis or disproved police or witnesses’ accounts of incidents.