CLOSE
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — The use of police body cameras is spreading to keep officers honest about using force against citizens. But how and when the public gets to see the footage is up for debate.

Videos of police shootings have become critical to determining what happened in situations that turn deadly. In some cases, strapping cigarette pack-size cameras to officers’ uniforms has been framed as a way to curb police brutality and stem deteriorating trust in law enforcement.

It’s not that simple. While the recordings may help get to the truth of an incident with police, they also record distraught victims, grieving family members, people suffering from mental illness and citizens exercising their rights to free speech and civil disobedience. Cameras may solve one problem but create others.

Existing laws that govern what information is released to the public are on the chopping block, as states try to strike the balance between a citizen’s right to privacy and making officers answer for their actions.

The use of police body cameras is still in its infancy, with no official count for how many of the 18,000 state and local departments have turned to them. But dozens of agencies across the country are testing them, and many have plans to roll them out more broadly.

A policy to release all police-recorded videos could mean footage of the inside of a person’s home or a hospital would be available. But if the policy is not to release footage in order to protect a person’s privacy, that could mean a video of an officer shooting someone would not be made public, defeating the main purpose of the use of these cameras.

“What started as an effort to capture or prevent bad police behavior, I think now we’re starting to see the realities of it capturing true human suffering,” Frank Straub, chief of the Spokane, Washington, police department, said earlier this year at a policy forum on Capitol Hill.

The solution is somewhere in the middle. Some departments redact the faces of bystanders or those arrested, or blur a video so much that little is recognizable. Others won’t release video if it’s part of an ongoing investigation. Some policies allow officers to turn their cameras on and off. Even completely uncensored footage may not crystalize an incident because it’s taken from one officer’s physical position, often a moving one. This can create shaky footage and in some cases won’t capture all details of a violent encounter.

State laws vary about what the public can see. Existing recordings are covered under these laws, such as videos from cameras mounted inside patrol cars. But body cameras produce more footage than dashboard cameras — footage that can show officers inside peoples’ homes and other private places.

“Any policy that categorically shields or opens up body-camera footage is probably wrong,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU is advocating for policies that flag video if it involves police use of force or relates to a public complaint.

Body cameras have become an easy political answer to the complex problem of crumbling trust in police.

In South Carolina, for example, police footage initially released after an officer shot a suspect in April showed the suspect running away during a routine traffic stop. Cellphone footage from a witness told a different story, and the North Charleston mayor quickly called for all uniformed officers to wear body cameras.

President Barack Obama supports using them, and his administration has pledged millions of dollars to local departments.

Police in Seattle received so many requests for body-camera footage under the state’s open records law that the department decided to proactively release videos on a YouTube channel that have been overly censored. Some are blurred to the point of no recognition. An activist who once pushed the department to be more transparent is now working on the project, Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said.

Washington’s public records laws are among the most liberal and do not require that agencies censor or blur videos the way Seattle is doing.

Michael Moynihan, 32, of Seattle, was arrested in Seattle on Jan. 19 during a demonstration to protest police violence. His full name, address, phone number and birthdate were publicly available on a body camera video released after The Associated Press asked for the footage under state law.

Months after the arrest, Moynihan has not been charged, and his case is under review, according to the police department. He said he supports police wearing body cameras but that his own experience shows the unsettling consequences.

Moynihan said, “That’s a very dangerous weapon that they have there.”

Like BlackAmericaWeb.com on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

(Photo Source: AP)

Also On Black America Web:
Find Out What Your Favorite Celebs Did On Instagram (09/01-09/07)
10 photos

4 thoughts on “Police Body Cameras May Solve One Problem But Create Others

  1. murachuslo on said:

    \\,,,>>See Here Gayz,,,,! I earned $5000 last month by working online just for 5 to 8 hours on my laptop and this was so easy that i myself could not believe before working on this site. Just Click To Read Orignal Site page >>> Next Tip Here

  2. reflection on said:

    Instead of attempting to fix the murder and brutally in policing law enforcement is attempting to distract and divide. Amp up the fear. Keep fear alive. With the help of the mainstream media they are attempting to betray themselves as victims. Over 808 americans have been killed nationwide and the police are the victims. Don’t fall for the spin. The police and there unions are desperate to change the narrative but the number don’t lie, the videos don’t lie.

    • That 808 number pales in comparison to the number of Killed by fellow Americans. The police need body cameras for their own protection. That way no one has to rely on cell phone video taken by the homies.

  3. WalterAHuguley on said:

    ,,>>>>See Here,,!my classmate’s mother makes $66 /hr on the internet //She has been fired for six months but last month her pay check was $13282 just working on the internet for a few hours.,check Here source…….► ~Read More~

Add Your Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s