We've all heard the stories. Abusive cops throwing around their power. Here are some examples from just the last month:
By all accounts, such incidents are very rare. Our great men of law enforcement are put into difficult situations each and every day, and 99.99% of the time, they handle them with grace and insure the safety of both the law abiding public and the public servants.
Often, the controversial issues, such as those mentioned above, come down to judgement calls.
For example, was the respected black college professor acting like a law abiding home owner - or was he being disorderly in a public place? Was the ambulance driver acting sufficiently beligerant to justify an immediate arrest even when a patients life might be at stake? Its hard to know after the fact. The police tell one story. But often there is another side telling a different story.
What it comes down to is, who is watching the watchers? I have an answer to that.
You and me - or at least we could be.
We have the technology to equip every law enforcement personnel in the country with a wearable video camera. The cost and size of such cameras has dropped dramatically in the last 5 years. Now, they cost very little and weight only a few ounces. They could be either mounted on the uniform, even integrated as part of the badge, or be worn as part of the radio or worn on the belt. Unit price could be as low as $30-40 dollars each for a camera - compare that to the price of a fully equiped squard car, which often exceeds $100,000.
Imagine the benefit that such cameras would have to law abiding citizens. No longer would there be a question of whether or not an abusive police officer acted inappropriated, because we could look at the video evidence.
Further, imagine the benefit to law enforcement. Having the benefit of video evidence could clear up many cases and provide further concrete evidence of criminal incidents. Also, having video evidence could be a very powerful tool for clearing law enforcement of any charges of wrongdoing in controversial cases like those mentioned above.
Finally, imagine the benefit to law enforcement management. Having video records of the conduct of law enforcement officers would provide a valuable tool for training in proper handling of situations and for diagnosing behavior issues when they occur.
We have the technology. Its past time that we embrace this option and equip our officers with wearable video cameras.