Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Smile! You're on..." BIFF! KAPOW! BAM! OOF!

Friend Staghounds has mused that someday, and in the not-too-distant future, all police will be wearing a small camera that functions much the way the dash cams in patrol cars do now, documenting Johnny Law's transactions with the public.

I think that documentation that ensures everybody's story matches is a good thing, and even after that happy day, I don't think it would be out of line for the good citizens of this land to document their own interactions with the constabulary. You know, if there are two sets of recordings, it's less likely that one will be... lost.

Of course, pointing an audiovisual recording device at your friendly neighborhood policeman during official interactions is actually illegal in some places, which is inane. The only place where there's less expectation of privacy than standing in the middle of the street enforcing the public law on the public's dime is maybe under Janet Jackson's bra on the fifty yard line.

(H/T to Unc.)


Sean said...

And, in a surprising move for a cop I'm sure, I'm in support of cameras recording the majority of our interactions with the public.

#1 - let's remember Peel's doctrine, we are the public, and that needs to be remembered.

#2 - it's a fair layer of oversight to help reduce abuses, which unfortunately do happen.

I always taught new guys riding with me to treat every stop and action as if it was being filmed & shown to your mother - because you never knew. If you're acting professional and appropriate, even when things are bad & you have to fight or raise your voice, then you should have nothing to fear. Plus, when you have those bad incidents which inevitably happen, it's very nice to have an outside view to exonerate you. I know that personally working in this manner has helped me several times, and expect others could say the same.

Yes, there are times the cameras should be off - I don't want to show the bad guys the techniques I use to take care of a bomb, or needlessly expose some confidential informant, or tape the rape report of a young girl who's had her innocence stolen. But for the majority of our public work, roll tape.

Just my 3 cents...

Tam said...

"And, in a surprising move for a cop I'm sure, I'm in support of cameras recording the majority of our interactions with the public."

It doesn't surprise me at all. Most cops I know realize that recording what actually happened keeps everyone honest.

Mike said...

If we're talking about the Taser Axon system, it downloads to a multiple site redundant server system. No one can alter the original video.

og said...

Find a cop that won't wear this and doesn't like it, and I suspect you found a wrong cop.

Mark Alger said...

As someone who is familiar with the laws governing photography in public places, I suspect that, even in those jurisdictions where the police think or say it's illegal to film them, it just ain't so.


Bubblehead Les said...

After reading the article, it looks like the same states/cities that are anti-gun are anti- camera. Must be embarrassing when the local Feudal Baron..err Mayor has to explain why his Security Squads...err police forces are caught screwing up. But I wonder what the ACLU's take on this is? Something about Freedom of the Press being violated seems just up their aisle, or are they too busy fighting the existance of 70 year old War Memorial Crosses in the middle of the desert to be bothered with doing their "job"?

Firehand said...

One of the things that gets me about the Maryland incident is the guy had a freakin' camera ON TOP OF HIS HELMET, and the state po-po are acting like he had Double-Naught Spy Gear secreted on him just to make their lives difficult.

Which, even if he did, big effing deal; act like a professional and it's no problem.

Don said...

Actually, they've been testing hat-cams for PCs and Bobbies and what have you, eh what in England for awhile now. They had a lot of trouble with (and I am not making this up) severe burns caused by the equipment overheating so badly as to cause fire in some cases.

The British police unions seemed in their statements at the time to be fairly agnostic about the filming of their work, but adamantly opposed with completely stiff upper lips to the setting on fire of coppers' heads.

Six said...

As a retired officer I'll add my support to Sean's as well. I was happy when the dash cams came out and pushed for adoption of the technology for individual officer recording systems before I retired last February. It's win all the way around. I think Og said it best, if you find a department unwilling to field the equipment it's time to start asking some very pointed questions.

staghounds said...

Thanks for the 'lanche, now I'll have to put something up!

In a public place, those laws are unconstitutional. No help to the wrongfully prosecuted now, if I were Mr. helmet camera I'd plead subject to that issue and take it to the U. S. S. C.

In all my years prosecuting, I've NEVER found myself saying "I wish that weren't on tape".

I tell every officer in training to record everything he practically and safely can.

I tell them to ASSUME that EVERY THING THEY DO is fully recorded.

I firmly like recording, and every good (in both senses) officer I know does, too.

Side benefits, aside from strong proof:

GREAT teaching and self training tool.

Fantastic embarrassing practical joke potential.

Discourages bad behavior and corner cutting.

Tape remembers stuff for you.

Tape sees stuff you don't.

Fewer trials.

AND it makes it easier for defendants, witnesses, mothers of defendants, and judges to be honest, too.

I mean, I'm sure that the lack of tape isn't what prevents all the above from being brutal, dishonest, or corrupt. But it lessens the temptation, doesn't it?

Jack said...

Check out the Robert Dziekański Taser incident. Four RCMP members almost got away with murder, but for a camera and an honest judge.ński_Taser_incident

James family outpost, Iowa. said...

Lessee, was it here or Kim DuToit's that I was linked to the story of the Brit "subject, not Citizen" who was rolling video tape in his front yard on some police activity on the public street in front of his house, when the 5-0 got in his face and threatened arrest for filming police business?!?
Now you say MD, MA and IL have stepped onto the slippery slope?
Those 3 paragons of freedom? Shocking.
MA - as host of the REAL Tea Party, should be so ashamed of itself. Only it's not.