B. Hussein Obama is looking to provide federal money (read taxpayer money) to equip police departments across the nation with body cameras that are worn by police officers so that everything they do (every encounter) is recorded.
It is not the place of the federal government to be doling out our money for things that affect state and local law enforcement. If individual states or localities want these cameras then they should pay for them. Federal tax dollars do not belong paying for these things but that is an issue for another day.
For today I am wondering how Obama or anyone else thinks cameras worn by police officers would make a difference. I have no issue with police officers wearing body cameras though I fail to see what value they have.
Let me explain. The body camera would record what the officer and the person with whom that officer interacted did. It would show who did what and it would either corroborate or refute the stories of the participants. So far that all seems good and who could argue with that? Hell, if Officer Wilson had been wearing a body camera we would know exactly what happened between him and Michael Brown.
But would it have mattered?
A camera in the Ferguson case might have shown Wilson to be lying but would it have resulted in an indictment? Given the evidence presented in the absence of a video I feel he should not have been indicted but I also know, based on cases where video IS available, he would likely not have been indicted even if the entire encounter had been recorded.
There are ample cases on the internet where police officers are recorded clearly violating the law and the rights of citizens. There are videos of officers shooting people (and dogs) for no reason. These police officers who are armed with batons, heavy flashlights (that can be used as a baton), Tasers, pepper spray and a firearm need only say they feared for their lives and they are deemed to have been justified in their actions even though these actions are taken against people who are UNARMED (since that seems to be a buzz word in the Brown case). I know I have said that unarmed does not mean harmless and I have seen plenty of videos where offices were perfectly justified in shooting unarmed people.
In those cases it is usually pretty clear. In those where the outrage is present it is usually obvious that the officer used excessive force. In these cases, where it is all caught in video, the officers are not indicted and are deemed to have acted appropriately and “within their training and department guidelines.”
So would a body camera make a difference?
The city of New York is having its turn at outrage over a Grand Jury decision. In this case an officer was not indicted for the death of a person who resisted arrest, was encountered by the officer and taken down. The guy ended up dying and it was all recorded. In the recording the person is taken to the ground and placed in some kind of choke hold and he is heard gasping and wheezing and saying that he can’t breathe. At what point does it become obvious the guy is in distress?
If this were a lone cop (the suspect was quite large) one might conclude that he did not let go because that could have been a ruse to attack the officer. But there are several other police officers present. All the cop on the ground has to say to his fellow officers is grab his arms guys, sir I am going to let you go so you can breathe but if you resist we will be right back where we started. With several other cops present there was no reason for this. [Please police officers save your righteous indignation and don’t waste my time telling me how tough it is on the street. Four or five armed to the teeth guys can handle a man who is having trouble breathing and who is NOT fighting. If not, turn in you badges.]
“All over America, cops are getting away with this,” added 22-year-old Demetri Green. “They’re the real gang in New York City. They’re the real gang in this county.” New York Daily News
In my opinion those who said Trayvon was shot for carrying Skillets (Skittles to the literate among us) and that Mike Brown was shot for walking in the street are idiots and ignored the facts in the case. Both of the people killed in these cases were VIOLENT. They were attacking someone. The guy in New York was not attacking anyone. He was selling an untaxed tobacco product.
The question should not be whether the officer followed procedure it should be was his response appropriate for the infraction and was the result of his actions an acceptable consequence of the person’s crime. In other words, was too much force used for a guy allegedly committing a non violent crime? Hell, they don’t treat people carrying small amounts of marijuana in New York the way they treated the victim here and he had a LEGAL product when the police killed him.
Given the video that shows the entire episode (the video came from a bystander) and given the reality that a lot of force was used for a non violent crime and given the man can be heard gasping and wheezing and saying he could not breathe and given the medical examiner ruled this a homicide a reasonable person could conclude that the officer went overboard and caused this man’s death. The Grand Jury did not see it that way and refused to indict.
It is rare for a police officer to go before the Grand Jury for these things and it is rare for any officer to be found guilty of a crime when he uses force while doing his job even if it is clear that what he did was wrong (and would be illegal if we did it). This is true even when video evidence is present.
So I ask, what good would body cameras do?
It will be interesting to see what happens in Ohio where it is obvious a cop murdered a child. The kid was playing with a toy gun and the police were called. When they arrive one of the Miami Vice wanna be cops shoots the kid dead seemingly before the police car comes to a stop. If this guy is found to have acted appropriately then maybe we really do need to burn the place to the ground and start over…
Obama Body Cam Request Takes a Hit
Never surrender, never submit.