FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In many cases, the footage from police cameras can be the only way to prove guilt or innocence, and the first hands-on crime analysis courses using body cams in the classroom are underway to study the phenomenon.
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan had an exclusive look from Farmingdale State University Monday.
The criminal justice students taking the courses are among the first in the country working with official law enforcement body cameras in the classroom. They are using the same model body cams that recorded the NYPD fatal shooting from which the video was released last week.
“To decrease liability and increase officer accountability” is the purpose, said professor Dr. Brian Kelly of Farmingdale State University.
Kelly, a retired law enforcement and police academy trainer, had his crime analysis students on the edges of their seats.
In one role-playing situation for the class, the classroom was a train platform and McLogan the victim of a verbal assault.
In the role-playing scenario, officers diffused the situation, and led McLogan away.
Students pore over the videos, analyzing what they see on the footage versus what they remember seeing live.
“Calm them down and separate that what they should have done,” one student said.
“It isn’t necessarily protection from a threat, but protects your rights,” another said.
The students take turns playing perpetrator, victim, and police. Cameras are jostled during the use of force, frisking, and interacting with someone experiencing an emotional disturbance.
“They know what they did is right, back up what they did with video evidence,” said Farmingdale State student Carol Shortell, who said she wants to be a police officer.
Other than forensic DNA analysis, law enforcement agencies tell CBS2 that applied classroom learning with body cams is the most sought after tool in contemporary police and prosecutorial training right now.
The students are learning that officers do not need a person’s permission to start recording, but officers are encouraged to tell members of the public when the cameras are on.