No Debate: Of course Every Cop Must Wear Body-camera

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We don't know if a body-cam would have detested this beast Michael Slager from executing Scott. But we know he's behind bars due to a video.

[Speaking Truth To Power]

The findings of a new 18-month study, conducted in Washington D.C., on the benefits of police body-cameras reportedly suggests that police behavior is not significantly reduced by the technology.

No doubt some police unions, and their political apologists, will use this one study to suggest we should totally scrap nation-wide implementation of police body-cameras.

Black America must continue to insist on full police body-camera legislation—nationwide.

We don’t need any study to tell us police body-cameras are valuable in addressing the transparency and evidentiary aspect of police brutality.

We know police bodycams are not a panacea. But it is a useful tool in this fight against rampantly racist police violence and murder.

Moreover, the bigger problem is with the corruption in the judicial system with lame lame district attorneys who don't prosecute murders committed by police vigorously enough. The solution is not to stop gathering evidence, including from bodycams; we must battle the compromised judicial establishment.

This recent study was conducted among some 2,000 police officers in Washington and its major finding was: cameras didn’t stop police from behaving badly. Whether, this included violently brutal behavior is unclear.

The study’s authors said “these results suggest we should recalibrate our expectations” regarding using body-cams to correct “large-scale behavior change in policing, particularly in context similar to Washington D.C.”

Chief Peter Newsham, of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington said he was surprised by the findings.

“I thought it would have a difference on police and civilian behavior,” he said. “Particularly officers—and this is the exception—who might be more inclined to misbehave.”

Others, like Harlan Yu, from a consulting company named Upturn, questioned whether bodycams should be adopted, due to the monetary cost.

“The results call into question whether police departments should even be adopting body-worn cameras, especially given their high cost.” Mr. Yu also supposedly talked about the privacy concerns that bodycams would have in minority areas.

Now, we should be clear this study, relegated to police in Washington D.C., is in no way representative of what would, necessarily, occur in other police departments. In fact, Professor David A. Harris, of the University of Pittsburg’s School of Law pointed this out.

“This area of police practice is under-researched, so we really don’t know a lot,” he said. “In this police department, cameras had a certain effect, but you cannot extend that to other police departments.”

Moreover, another study taken in Rialto, California suggested body-cams did have a positive effect.

In that 2012 study, which lasted a year, officers were assigned cameras randomly based on their shifts. It was found that those shifts which including the use of body-cams showed: half as many use-of-force complaints were filed. These included the use of: batons, Tasers and guns. This study also recorded a 90 percent drop, from the prior year, in civilian complaints.

It’s also truly maddening to hear people talk about dropping body-cam legislation because of “their high cost.” What about the high cost to Black families who lost love ones, unjustly, because of trigger-happy racist police? And, we’re supposed to be so concerned about losing privacy rights—which we really don’t have anyway—while police murder us with impunity, often under the cover of darkness?

What we should be full aware of is how police will do everything to undermine transparency. That is the goal of police unions regarding bodycams. We know this by what they have already done. Police from Boston to Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was murdered, in cold blood, and other points in between, are doing everything to reject national police bodycam implementation.

For example, last year the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, which represents 1,500 cops, sued to stop the city from implementing a bodycam pilot program. This Boston police union claimed bodycams created an “increased risk of harm to officers” and whined that “the City’s unilateral action constitute irreparable harm.”

Around this same time, a police union in Seattle was fighting, then Mayor Ed Murray’s attempt to introduce bodycams. The Seattle police union claimed they weren’t really against body-cams but were against the executive order Murray used. They said it constituted an unfair labor practice and was an executive overreach.

Murray is now out of office and the bodycam implementation in Seattle is currently stalled. And, in a breathtaking example of unmitigated gall, Seattle police are allegedly asking for a pay raise as a condition of wearing the body-cams.

In one of Seattle’s more recent unjustified killings of Black people, Charleena Lyles, 30, was shot to death on June 18 by two White police: Officer Jason Anderson and Officer Steven McNew. Lyles, who was pregnant, had called police to report a robbery attempt—was shot because she still had a knife she was probably using to protect herself from the robber.

Three of the seven shots hit her in the back, or on her rear arm. According to the autopsy report, one of the shots pierced “the upper midline uterus causing herniation of a fetus in its amniotic sac into the peritoneal cavity.”

Police claimed she lunged at them with the knife. Where have we heard that before? Lyles was said to have suffered from mental problems—which, it seems police clearly knew about.

For police purposes, the findings of this Washington study fall in line with what the Boston police union said that “officers wearing body cameras are no less likely to use force but are 15 percent more likely to be assaulted than officers without cameras.”

Your guess is as good as mine in figuring how these people can say that officers wearing body cameras “are 15 percent more likely to be assaulted.” Where is the proof to sustain such a statement?

Another ridiculous red-herring these liars use is the: its invading the privacy of police argument. Do we need to remind these folks they are public servants? The fact police would try to use the privacy argument to shield themselves from public scrutiny within the issue of police brutality gives you an idea of their fallacious reasonings.

Now, the reality is we do have hard evidence that bodycams do curb the behavior of some police. The Walter Scott and Alton Sterling cases are examples of this.

Let’s recall that when then Officer Michael Slager first encountered Walter Scott the police vehicle he was driving was equipped with a police dash-cam. While Slager was being recorded, his behavior with Scott was relatively professional. However, when Scott ran—and Slager thought he was no longer being recorded—he then turned into the cold-blooded murderer we saw.

Because Slager wasn’t aware Feidin Santana had recorded this atrocity on a cellphone camera, he told the same lies we often hear when these racist cops kill Black people. Slager said he “felt threatened” and said Scott had taken his Taser.

If it hadn’t been for Santana’s video this murderous savage would still be policing Black people in South Carolina. Because of Santana’s video, Slager eventually realized he could not totally escape justice. He pled guilty after a first case mistrial.

In the Alton Sterling case, killer-cops Officer Howie Lake II and Officer Blane Salamoni claimed, both, their bodycams fell off. Are we to really believe this? Doesn’t common sense tell us they didn’t want their murderous crime to be documented?

Not only do we need bodycams, we need embedded cameras that can't be easily detached.

The ubiquity of cellphone technology has been the difference in recently exposing the murderous machinations of police toward Black people. Former police Lt. Greg Abbott, of Georgia, told a White woman "we only kill Black people."

Let’s remember he was videotaped saying this.

He has since retired.

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