Wednesday, December 09, 2015
Dash Cam and Body Cam Video Are Part of the Solution to the Crisis of Police Accountability
As the Feds launch an investigation into the patterns and practice of the Chicago Police Department and problems of police accountability have become exposed across the nation, it's important to take a serious look at the policies, laws and practices that exist that are obstacles or part of the solution.
Dash cam video has been integral in uncovering the murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago. Without it, it's very likely there would be a full cover-up, lies told by bad cops and no action taken by prosecutors or politicians.
What SHOULD be the policy and procedures of dash cam and, furthermore, body cam, video?
While it seems obvious that every police officer, regardless of rank, should be recording interactions with the public and suspects so there is accountability and also protection against false allegations of police misconduct, the reality is we are far from having video everywhere.
In Aurora, only 1/3rd of police squad cars even have dash cam video.
That's right, corrupt Mayor Tom Weisner spent $163 million on a police palace to reward cronies, but didn't spend funds on actual public safety, police accountability and building the trust with the public.
When should dash cam video not be recorded? When should audio be allowed to be turned off? Most would say never, but are there any exceptions and, if so, what?
When there is an incident involving an officer, should that officer be required to first provide an independent account without the benefit of filing a report to fit the video?
In Aurora, police are able to view the video BEFORE a report.
How long should videos be retained? Should all video be retained or only those video that involve interaction with the public?
What about jail guards? Should everything they do be recorded?
What about command staff? Why shouldn't their conduct be monitored like the rank-n-file street cop?
In Aurora, none of the command staff or detectives have any video recorded. Only the rank-n-file cop.
Is that fair?
Body cameras are obviously part of the solution but when should they be allowed to be off?
These are some of the questions that everyone should be asking if we are going to have any chance at any solution for the crisis of policing in our communities, whether it's Chicago, Aurora, Ferguson, New York City, Baltimore, San Francisco or anywhere.
We NEED a police force we can trust, but it's clear that trust is broken.
At the same time, video tends to help good cops as much as it exposes bad cops, so the more video, the better.
Technology has allowed the public tools to see and record things with or without official dash cam or body cam video, so we may have multiple views of the same situation.
There is a crisis and we need to solve it.
Let's figure out what will work.