In recent years, body cameras have become a popular tool for people on the frontline to monitor interactions with the public and reduce violence. But how exactly do these devices work? Are they always recording, or are they only activated when needed? And what implications does this technology have on public safety and accountability? In this article, we’ll explore the use of body cameras in policing, their pros and cons, and whether having them constantly recording is beneficial or detrimental to society.

Using a body camera

Most Body Worn Cameras are designed to be worn on the chest or lapel and can record audio and video at the same time. These cameras are typically activated by pressing a button, which turns on the camera and starts recording. Once activated, it will continue to record until either the user turns off the device or there is a lapse in activity—such as when the battery runs out or the memory card is full.

Pre-event record

Cameras are able to record up to 30 seconds before the record button is pressed,  allowing for the recording of pre-event activity. This allows users to capture events that have happened prior to them activating the cameras, providing additional context and clarity to an incident. Although pre-event record can be beneficial in some cases, it may also raise privacy concerns if used inappropriately.

Post-event recording

If the recording has ended and an event flares up again the 30-60 second post event recording can be activated. This allows the wearer to document any activity that they may have missed while the recording was deactivated, providing an additional layer of protection for both the user and the person they’re recording.

Continuous recording

With continuous recording personnel are able to capture every moment from a scene, ensuring that nothing is missed or left out. This provides invaluable information that can be used to investigate and prosecute criminal cases, as well as provide a better understanding of any potential misconduct or abuse. However, there are also potential privacy issues associated with continuous recording, as it is impossible to know who may be watching the video or where it will end up, the downside of continuous recording is that the battery life and memory needs to keep up with the amount of recording.

IR for full night-time recording

IR or infrared recording technology allows for full night-time recording, meaning that users can record activity even in low light conditions. This is especially useful in situations where lighting can be an issue, such as at nighttime or in dark areas. Additionally, IR technology ensures that the video is clear and easily visible, allowing for a better understanding of what has taken place.

Pros and cons of body camera use

Body cameras are seen as a tool to increase accountability and reduce misconduct. The presence of a camera can encourage users to act professionally during interactions with citizens and discourage wrongful behavior. Additionally, the footage captured can be used as evidence in criminal cases and help to exonerate innocent individuals.

On the other hand, there are also potential concerns about body cameras, such as privacy issues and a lack of transparency regarding when they are used or how the recordings are stored. There is also a risk that users may turn off their cameras during critical moments, making it difficult to accurately assess a situation.

Are body cameras always recording?

Although Body Worn Cameras are typically activated when they’re needed, there is an increasing trend among some police departments of having them constantly record. This means that users are essentially being monitored at all times and may have their actions scrutinized even in situations where no wrongdoing is suspected.

While the presence of a body camera can be a positive thing for everyone involved, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks and implications of having them constantly recording. Before implementing such a policy, police departments should carefully evaluate the pros and cons to ensure that their use of these devices is in line with their commitment to public safety and accountability.


In conclusion, body cameras are a valuable tool for law enforcement personnel to monitor their interactions with citizens and investigate potential misconduct or abuse. They can be used in pre-event, post-event, continuous and night-time recording modes to capture every moment from an incident.  

Additionally, the presence of a body camera can encourage users to act professionally during interactions with citizens and discourage wrongful behavior. However, it is important to consider the potential privacy issues associated with continuous recording before implementing such a policy.  Ultimately, both law enforcement personnel and the public should be aware of the implications of body cameras and their use in order to ensure that they are used responsibly.

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