Body cams for Manila enforcers

Manila Standard |  by Sandy Araneta | January 02, 2017

Starting 2017, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada will require every traffic enforcer of the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau to wear body cameras while on duty to eliminate or cut down corruption among the enforcers.

Estrada said the use of body cameras will help reduce misconduct among MTPB enforcers such as extortion and other “under-the-table” settlements that usually take place while they are apprehending traffic violators.

“We’ve been thinking of ways to cut down corruption and misbehavior among MTPB enforcers, and we believe the use of body cams is an effective way,” Estrada said.

Many law enforcement units in other countries, he pointed out, use body and dashboard cameras in their service vehicles to record their operations and encounters with motorists and criminal elements.

Usually worn on the front of a shirt, a body-worn camera is a video recording system that is typically utilized by law enforcement personnel to record their interactions with the public or gather video evidence at crime scenes, and has been known to increase both officer and citizen accountability.

On Nov. 28, Estrada terminated the job contracts of 690 members of the MTPB after being swamped with complaints from the motorists concerning their alleged extortion activities.

To fill up the vacated slots, the Manila Police District is retraining the first batch of 92 new enforcers whom Estrada said will be more disciplined, competent, and incorruptible.

MTPB chief Dennis Alcoreza said he fully supports Estrada’s idea of equipping traffic personnel with body cameras.

By video recording enforcer-motorist encounters, he explained they can get objective evidence of what happened during the actual apprehension instead of self-serving hearsays.

“We have to balance it out, for all we know the apprehended motorist is just making up stories to pin down the hapless enforcer and get away with his violation. We’ll get to see the entire situation,” Alcoreza pointed out, adding that body cams will also protect traffic enforcers against unscrupulous motorists.

A body camera usually costs around P8,500 to P12,000 per unit, he added.

“Our target is one body cam per enforcer, plus a communication radio. We initially plan to procure 100 body cams by April,” Alcoreza said.