Sunday, August 17, 2014
Everyone law-abiding benefits when police wear cameras
I had an essay planned about the slaying of an unarmed Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO police officer, the hypermilitarized repression of peaceful protesters by the Ferguson "police department," against peaceful protesters, the apparent Omerta surrounding Brown’s killer and his colleagues and the disgusting character assassination of Brown by that department. But it’s going to take a while to put that essay together and I’m not sure when I’ll have time.
Right now, we don’t know what happened. Brown is dead. The Ferguson PD has little credibility left, for reasons which extend far beyond Brown’s killing. Brown himself is not alive to give his side of the story. Brown’s killing is a great illustration of why law enforcement members should wear cameras, at least while on patrol. Then we would know what REALLY happened.
Some departments do and their use has been shown to reduce incidents of conflicts between police and citizens, presumably because both know they’re being watched and recorded.
It’s a shame that many police and sheriff departments resist this. It offers a layer of protection to the good cops (which is most of them) and provides video evidence to help ensure anyone who assaults them is convicted.
Unfortunately, the reputation of all cops – including the good ones – is harmed when bad cops get away with crimes. When good cops reflexively oppose accountability for bad ones, it sends a message that they feel their profession is above the law. This tarnishes them all.
Any time any Muslim anywhere in the world does something bad, every Muslim in America is expected to immediately stop what they’re doing and immediately denounce it. Anyone who doesn’t – say because they have ordinary lives to live or because they don’t feel that every Muslim acts in the name of all Islam – is automatically denounced as sympathetic to terror, guilty by association. But most Muslims in America went out of their way to denounce the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks as a perversion of Islam.
The situation in Ferguson is a pretty significant event. And it’d help their own credibility if police organizations came out in favor of the increased transparency in their own ranks that wearing cameras would bring.