Camera on

By Bill WirtzLex Kleren

Body cams, dash cams, recorded trials and interrogations - while standard practice in other countries, do not exist in Luxembourg. A few pushes have been made to introduce visual and audio recording to the law enforcement and justice system, but progress has been slow.

It is a relatively rare occasion: witnesses of a mugging film the event as it unfolds. The video evidence is then used by police, then later by the court, to convict a defendant. It has happened a few times in Luxembourg but is relying on the quick reactions of bystanders. Luxembourg-City mayor Lydie Polfer (Democratic Party) pointed at one of these examples in the recent episode of “Elo mol éierlech” (‘Let’s be honest’). She is also a defender of the public CCTV cameras, much like the police. However, the downsides of a camera surveillance system are apparent: cameras are not (and cannot be) installed at every corner, nor can a device placed far away on a rooftop provide accurate imagery, or any sound for that matter, of a police altercation.

If a police officer detains or arrests a person alleged of having committed a crime, no video evidence documents the encounter. This is why many police departments in the United States have chosen to opt for active body cameras in police uniforms, which record video and sound and need to be used during all police work. As a result, the footage has become standard practice in courtrooms across the United States and is used to exonerate or indict police officers for wrongdoing. For instance, body cam footage was used in the inquiry into Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was found guilty of murdering George Floyd during an arrest in May 2020. The incident has sparked widespread protests in the United States and worldwide during the last summer.

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