A Corruption Close-Up: Video Cameras and the Tijuana Police Force

The Tijuana Police Force is rolling out a new program equipping all officers with body cameras with the express purpose of cutting down on corruption. Public perceptions of corruption within the police force run high, a sentiment shared both within and without the force. Tijuana Police Chief Alejandro Lares Valladares hopes that the body cameras, in addition to helping with the force’s tarnished reputation, will also highlight what he feels is a key but far less-discussed aspect of the city’s rampant corruption: the willingness of the public to instigate corrupt exchanges. (In what was a near-perfect opening act for Lares Valladares’ program, just a few days after Tijuana police officers began wearing the cameras, a driver pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt, who also did not have her driver’s license, offered to bribe the officer. Footage of the exchange helped Lares Valladares convince those within his department that the cameras are not being used only as means of policing the police, but as a means of protecting all parties.)

Body cameras do have the potential to cut down on corruption, but only if the program is administered correctly. Recent studies on how body cameras influence the use of force both by and against US police officers provide a few key lessons, Police Chief Lares Valladares and his colleagues in Tijuana should take into account. Continue reading