Militarization of Police

Should Cops Wear Body Cameras? One Ex-Cop Says Yes.

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"Everyone behaves better when they're on video," says former Seattle Police officer Steve Ward, "I realized that dash cams only capture about five percent of what a cop does. And I wanted to catch 100 percent of what a cop does." Ward left the force to start Vievu, a company that makes body cameras for police officers.

Orginally aired on March 25, 2014. Initial text below:

Civilians shoot and upload police encounters to the Internet everyday using tiny cameras on their cell phones and other mobile devices. In fact it may be easier than ever to keep the police accountable with the technology we all carry around in our pockets. But police are looking to keep civilians accountable too by wearing cameras of their own. Reason TV sat down with former Seattle Police officer Steve Ward, who left the force to start Vievu, a company that makes body cameras for police officers.

"Everyone behaves better when they're on video," says Ward. "I realized that dash cams only capture about five percent of what a cop does. And I wanted to catch 100 percent of what a cop does."

The cameras are small, light, and clip to the clothing of a police officer's uniform. They turn on with a large switch on the front of the camera and have a green circle that surrounds the lens so that civilians know that the camera is recording.

But once the data is recorded, what stops an officer from editing or manipulating the video? Ward says his cameras contain software that stops officers from doing anything nefarious with it, "Our software platform stops officers from altering, deleting, copying, editing, uploading to YouTube, any of the videos that the cops take."

While body cameras present the strong benefit of keeping police accountable, they also present a risk of invading civilians' privacy. But in a policy brief from October 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that depending on how the body cameras were implemented, the privacy concerns could be dealt with.

Although we generally take a dim view of the proliferation of surveillance cameras in American life, police on-body cameras are different because of their potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers. Historically, there was no documentary evidence of most encounters between police officers and the public, and due to the volatile nature of those encounters, this often resulted in radically divergent accounts of incidents. Cameras have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse.

In 2013, The New York Times reported that the city of Rialto, Calif., was able to cut down on complaints against officers by 88 percent over the previous year when it gave its officers body cameras.  Use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent.

Approximately 5:42.

Produced by Paul Detrick. Edited by Detrick and William Neff. Shot by Alex Manning.

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107 responses to “Should Cops Wear Body Cameras? One Ex-Cop Says Yes.

  1. Cameras have the potential to be a win-win

    I’m all for them, but if they become ubiquitous there will be negative effects as well. Not every cop goes full retard upon discovering a dime bag of weed for example, and will instead confiscate it and let the offender carry on without otherwise fucking their life up. I imagine that if cops know that their every action is being recorded we will lose some or all of this discretion used by some to mitigate the damage of bad or poorly constructed laws.

    Maybe it will result in progress towards repealing some of them, but it’s not going to be all unicorns and rainbows along the way.

    1. One of the best ways to get rid of fucked-up laws is to insist on their constant, even-handed enforcement.

      1. You can insist on it all you want but RC’s 2nd Iron Law suggests that it will never happen.

    2. Perhaps they can only access the footage if there is an accusation of police misconduct, or if it is needed as evidence in a trial. It would be impossible to watch every second of footage from all cops anyway, and that way you allow the officer to retain his discretion.

      1. It would be impossible to watch every second of footage from all cops anyway

        Nah, you just have to hire one video watcher per cop.

    3. I’ll play utilitarian for a moment and say that’s a very low price to pay to avoid the behaviors we have grown accustomed to seeing from law enforcement. By which I don’t just mean police; TSA agents should have to wear these as well, with CIA and FBI agents to follow.

      Since we’re a surveillance state now, there should be a seamless video record of how every public servant spends every second of his working day from the day he signs on to the day he retires. Presidents, Senators, and judges in particular. Once they’ve implemented that policy, then we can have a national discussion about whether our porn-viewing habits should be recorded by the NSA.

  2. I am all for anything that will make them more accountable to the people they serve (and part of me hopes they hate it).

    The thing that attracts assholes to the profession is the ability to impose their will on others without repercussion. This takes that aspect away and should dissuade the assholes from seeking such professions.

  3. The cops keep telling us that if we’ve done nothing wrong, we have nothing to hide. And yet they seem to want to hide their actions.

  4. OT: Last night, the topic of people praying to Obama came up. Here is one of the more outrageous videos I could find on that subject:

    Hear our cry, Obama!

    1. Excerpt from the film ‘Jesus Camp’ where young fundies pray to a life-sized cardboard George W. Bush.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbkjw__Phz4

      1. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

        Did someone here claim Bush wasn’t a shitbag? I must have missed that.

        1. We’re comparing Derp. No one brings it like fundie-nuts do.

          1. NO, no one was comparing anything. Asshole.

            Bush could have been Hitler incarnate. It wouldn’t lessen the fact that Obama is a piece of shit.

            1. Wow, you get defensive when someone points out the idiocy of conservatives.

              I read the thread where a poster called Michael Hihn (sp?) pointed out the hypocrisy of you SoCons from yesterday.

              1. You calling FdA a SoCon is fucking priceless demfag.

      2. Is this where they pray FOR Bush, and not TO Bush?

      3. Shriek, I explained to you about Pentecostalism and the difference between praying to something and praying for someone last year.

        Reference

        So that just leads me to believe that you are a dishonest shitbird trying to score TEAM points.

        Then again, I already knew that.

        1. I admit that I don’t consider that distinction important enough to remember.

          Prayer is useless – a waste of time.

          1. At least you’re bold enough to admit that you’re not going to let little things like facts fuck up your rant.

      4. As disgusting as both are, I think Obama’s fundies win. The Jesus Camp kids aren’t praying to Bush, they aren’t beseeching him, they aren’t asking to be delivered by him. Bush’s fundies are praying for him, but not worshiping him.

        Plus, aren’t there songs out there sung in “North Korean style” by American children for “dear leader” Obama?

        “Barack Hussein Obama, mmm, mmm, mmmm!”

        1. Both strike me as certifiable, though I’ll grant that praying directly TO a President is the worse.

          1. Praying for someone is certifiable?

            Dude, that’s fucked up.

            1. Praying for someone while kneeling before a life sized cardboard cut out of the person is pretty crazy, yes.

              1. A specific part of some protestant denominations is praying by “the laying on of hands”, for healing, etc.

                It also is for the transmission of “the anointing” of God to the recipient. Since the President isn’t going to stop by any time soon, the over-zealous interpretation of the biblical tenet of praying for the flock would be to pray to a photo or a likeness. Is it rational? Probably not… but if it’s sincere, it’s not hurting anyone.

                That would be the most reasonable explanation of the praying around the cutout.

                Praying _TO_ the President as if he were a god _is_ bat-shit crazy. Totally different.

    2. Injustice

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  5. I’ve wondered this a few times, now; If cops all have to wear body cameras, will that remove their ability to use discression and NOT arrest somebody?

    What I mean is, if they encounter someone doing something non-harmful (like smoking a joint) and decide to get all ’70s cop on him and tell him to put it out rather than bust him, will they suffer repercussions?

    I’d imagine it will be a matter of the way the precint is run, but this actually seems like a way for the few good cops out there to be forced into fucking people over that they would otherwise let go.

    1. I doubt that the video will be reviewed unless someone complains, and I doubt people will complain about being let go.

      1. Until the unions add “Chief Reviewer in Advancing Policing” to the list of positions.

      2. This is what they do with the flight recorders on airplanes.

        However, what happens when the tape is used to convict a bad guy, but the encounter right before was the cop letting off a public drunk?

        1. Also, I could easily see a disparate impact argument being made to subject the recordings to random, periodic review.

    2. In libertopia, there would be no laws that punished victimless crime. Therefore, the cops job would be to enforce all the laws without discretion and he’d be correct in doing so, as someone’s rights would have been violated due to their action.

      In the real world, when enough people get arrested for Jaywalking, there will be incentive to get rid of laws against Jaywalking.

      1. My sentiment is that it’s preferable for 10 jaywalkers to get ticketed for jaywalking than it is for one non-jaywalker to get unjustly ticketed.

    3. You’ve hit on what, I believe, is the reason for the increase in the police state mentality for minor, victimless “crimes”.

      The crime rate has gone down so much that these cops need to find something to do to justify their jobs, so they arrest us for things that 30 years ago would have been ignored. Can you imagine 1980’s NYC cops hassling a store owner about loosies? Hell no.

      Therefore, what we need is more serious crime so the cops will leave those of us who enjoy victimless sin alone.

      Ayn Random Variation – 2016!

      1. I think the economics behind it are more important than the justification element. Police, particularly small town police, have to generate sufficient revenues to cover most of their salaries. Since getting rid of cops as crime drops isn’t a popular idea given the public’s misconceptions about what most police actually do with most of the time (namely hand out tickets rather than tracking down dangerous psychos), they have to continue to find supplementary revenue streams.

        Which is why every small town that’s big enough to have a police force has a designated speed trap area which the wise locals know about. But even if crime started to increase again, beat cops and their beancounting bosses have far less incentive to track down violent criminals than they do to continue to hand out tickets that result in cash for the city & the department.

    4. “…If cops all have to wear body cameras, will that remove their ability to use discretion…”

      In Louisiana their discretion is written into the law, so I doubt cameras will remove their discretion. It may cause them to act differently knowing that their boss will be viewing, but the discretion will remain.

      I don’t know about other states.

  6. The guy who sells cameras to the cops wants cops to wear cameras?

    Who could have seen that coming?

    1. Well, yeah. The key word in the whole article is “former” cop.

  7. You know, I’m all for cameras on cops, but why would I want to hear from the guy with a business selling them about why they should be purchased?

    1. In fairness, he has expertise as someone who would wear a cam, and feels passionate enough about them to quit his day job.

  8. Not if the cops can turn them on and off when they want. They should send a live feed in real time to a third party where it is cataloged and stored so they cannot be tampered with.

    http://www.AnonCrypt.tk

    1. On August 8th, 2014 at 2:19 PM, the singularity happened.

  9. “Our software platform stops officers from altering, deleting, copying, editing, uploading to YouTube, any of the videos that the cops take.”

    I’m sure these devices would be screwed around with in practice, but at the very least that would raise another red flag where misconduct is alleged, and complicate things for wrongdoers.

  10. Too make this tech even better, it needs voice activated sound track.

    “Do you know why I stopped you?” Cue laugh track.

    “Stop!” Cue Yakity Sax.

    “Miss” Cue porno music.

  11. Kinda OT: Interesting bit on armed police from Progressivetopia

    http://thinkprogress.org/justi…..d-kingdom/

    But is the current American understanding of deadly force the only option? The United Kingdom provides a strikingly different example. By the most conservative estimates, there were more than 400 shooting deaths at U.S. law enforcement hands in 2012. In the UK, that number was zero. Between 1995 and 2010, the number of UK victims of police shootings was 33. And British citizens are about 100 times less likely to be shot by police, according to the Economist.

    1. By the most conservative estimates, there were more than 400 shooting deaths at U.S. law enforcement hands in 2012. In the UK, that number was zero.

      And how many beheadings in the middle of capital cities in broad daylight on a busy street are their in the UK? What number is that compared to the US?

      1. “The terrorists will never win because they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech,”

        1. Unfortunately the strategy they opted to employ to protect these values was to put them in a secure location where no one could possibly get to them.

          1. From The Blue Max:

            Heidemann: Herr General, I see now, I have notions of honor which are outdated.

            von Klugermann: Ahh, they’re not outdated!
            [pause]
            Stored. With care, and love, for better times.

      2. I’m not sure what point you think you’re making, but perhaps more importantly, well, there are cases like these that happen in the US:

        http://www.foxnews.com/story/2…..cker-knew/

    2. It’s almost like demographics are different here.

      1. Tell us more, resident anti-racist police.

    3. Don’t the British police have an entirely different history and professional ethos than the American police?

      1. I’m merely noting the contrast.

  12. Sharknado!!!
    https://local.nixle.com/alert/5255571/
    Four large Sharks @ MB Pier, swimming south towards HB. Circling swimmers – seen by LASD Airship. Numerous callers/occurring now.

    1. The Giffords must pay a $1,500 mental anguish fine to each of the women and pay $10,000 in civil damages penalty to New York State. If they can’t pay in 60 days, a nine percent interest rate will be added to that total. Like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Giffords must also institute anti-discrimination re-education classes and procedures for their staff.

      1. $1,500 to.. the women, and $10,000.. to New York State

        Government is totally not a racket. Honest.

        1. These thoughtcriminals have engaged in thoughtcrime. They’re lucky that Big Brother was benevolent enough to allow them to keep their lives and some of their money.

          Truly tolerant people are intolerant of intolerance.

      2. Like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Giffords must also institute anti-discrimination re-education classes and procedures for their staff.

        I like that they aren’t shy about using the “r” word in describing the classes.

        But fuck New York for telling people they can’t use discretion in who they rent their property out to. And double fuck the jackasses that came up with the name “Human Rights Commission” as if someone is being deprived of their human dignity if they can’t have a rustic themed wedding at the farm they want.

        Does that sound like something that should be covered by the same phrase—“human rights violations”–that also applies to African girls getting genitally mutilated and North Koreans starved to death in gulags?

        1. I like that they aren’t shy about using the “r” word in describing the classes.

          #libertarianmoment

    2. Okay, which one of you clowns unincorporated the First Amendment when I wasn’t looking?

      I’d be tempted to tell the fascists to sit on it and twirl, but then I’d just be left to rot Kokesh-style until I’d had enough.

    3. But remember, the SoCons are the bad guys.

    4. Blast from the past:

      “How Libertarians Pushed Gay Marriage in New York Over the Top

      “Nick Gillespie|Jun. 26, 2011 12:13 am”

      [quoting with approval an article in the NYT]

      https://reason.com/blog/2011/06…..hed-gay-ma

  13. I don’t know if this is a joke or not, but…

    In another case of school officials adhering to ridiculous zero tolerance policies, a student from South Carolina was suspended and arrested by police recently after writing an imaginative story about using a gun to shoot a dinosaur.

    The offender, 16-year-old Alex Stone of Summerville High School in a suburb of Charleston was in the course of completing an assignment where students were asked to write something brief about themselves, much like Facebook status updates.

    Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.c…..ysaRgMW.99

    1. Susan, thoughtcriminals have to be punished vigorously and without mercy. To even think a thought that is verboten should reduce you to heap of weeping and self-loathing, then send you running to your nearest government thought-monitor to beg for absolution and admittance to a re-education camp.

      Imagining holding an assault weapon is definitely verboten.

      1. I know that area. Romney won about 60% of the vote in that county in 2012.

        1. Weak.

          1. Are the Public Schools in South Carolina more Republican than the other public school systems?

            1. Nope. See my comment below.

            2. Of course. This idea that liberal administrators somehow snuck past the very conservative school boards we’ve long had is tenable only on right wing radio.

              1. Are the school boards in this area “very conservative”?

                1. Dyer County, where that girl got suspended for saying “Bless you” voted over 70% for Romney. I suppose the very conservative school board insisted on such secularism?

                  1. You might want to think about that case a bit more

        2. You won’t get any disagreement that statists come in all colors.

          1. That’s not what he was trying to do. He was trying to get in one more Botard argument before the weekend is over.

            It’s a very predictable formula.

            Step 1: Bo strongly implies that republicans/so cons were the ones to suspend this kid based on geographical association.

            Step 2: Wait for someone to point out that even in a county that went 60% Romney, the school administrators are still highly likely to be liberal, especially given that the overreaction was on the topic of guns.

            Step 3: Bo claims that he never said that the administrators were So Cons.

            Step 4: 20 or so comments of pedantic arguing.

            Step 5: Bo accuses the other person of not being a libertarian, declares victory, and furiously masturbates in front of his computer.

            Typical weekend, really.

            1. I live in SC Einstein, and it’s most definitely a Republican run area. If you’d like to somehow imagine that somehow a liberal fifth column of school administrators secretly took over the school system a few miles down the road from my current location, please indulge us with your Glenn Beck-esque scenario.

              I know you’d like all crazy statism to come from your opposing Team, but reality intrudes. What’s truly hilarious is your argument/suggestion that since this has to do with guns it just can’t, can’t, be Republicans behind it, as if conservative school administrators did not rush to enact general zero tolerance policy crackdowns post Columbine.

              1. So, I guess the universities in SC arent primarily staffed by liberal professors either?

                I went to GT, while the staff was more conservative than your typical university staff, it was far more liberal than the student body.

                There is no way Clemson and USCe arent liberal hotbeds. And yes, universities and primary/secondary school systems arent the same, but the same logic applies.

                I bet the average artist in SC is more liberal than the SC population as a whole too. While still being more conservative than the average artist in NY.

                1. The principal of the high school in question got his degree from the Citadel. That’s a hotbed of liberalism too I guess.

            2. Neocons, and Socons, and Bocons! Oh, my!

            3. Even worse, when he tried to claim that there werent liberals in SC, I pointed out that Obama got 44% of the vote, so clearly there are.

              Now he is reversing that and trying to use it as an argument to support his position.

              1. Dyer county went over 70% for Romney. I suppose the school system must be filled with Socons.

              2. Of course there are liberals in SC, but they are minorities in most places. Blaming the statism here on liberals is fantasy motivated by some Manichean need to blame everything on ‘the progs’

                1. Bo, your invocation of Manichaeism has just destroyed my brand new irony detector. (The previous model being destroyed after observing that Al Gore was suing someone for fraud.)

                  1. Yes, because my ‘pox on both their houses’ position is the Manichean one, not that of those who blame all evil on progs, even in places where progs are long time minorities.

                    Derp.

                    1. Except no one actually brought up the politics of those imposing the rule until you did. So, no, the derp is all on you.

            4. I didn’t know he restricted that to weekends.

  14. Body cameras? No way, man. Too dangerous!

    http://photographyisnotacrime……ps-killed/

    Via Balko.

  15. http://www.bloombergview.com/a…..-a-liberal

    What It Means to Be a Liberal

    Liberalism/capitalism has won except for a few hellholes like North Korea and Venezuela.

    1. Sadly, however, it isn’t true to say, “We’re all liberals now.” There is no lack of rival systems: state capitalism, militant Islam, elected autocracy, outright dictatorship. All of those, in different ways, reject one or more of the guiding ideas of liberalism. And anti-liberal strains of thinking are all too apparent in the U.S. and other liberal societies.

      1. If FDR-style progressives are liberals, then national socialists are going to have to qualify as liberals as well, as both groups shamelessly mix and match negative and positive rights (see FDR’s inauguration speech from 1940 for a particularly shameless instance of this). There’s also the fact that the positive rights that progressives love so much (the “right” to healthcare, the “right” to a chicken in every pot) necessarily entail a violation of someone else’s negative rights. Which is why positive rights are not rights at all, despite the flowery bs spun around them by populists like FDR and almost everyone who’s followed him.

        To say that modern progressives of either party are in any way philosophical heirs of real liberalism is to destroy the word liberal. Which is exactly what’s happened.

        1. (did I mention that FDR was shameless?)

          1. Not often enough — it can’t be done.

        2. I’m not sure why you are replying to me, as opposed to Weigel-weiner….

          1. He got Reasonable-d, so yours was the only post I can reply to. I’m not disagreeing with you, just commenting/blathering.

  16. What, then, do liberals want when they say they want liberty? One thing is resistance to power, the second of Fawcett’s guiding ideas: not just political power, but economic and social power as well. Liberalism expects that power tends toward tyranny unless checked. Another thing liberals want when they say they want liberty is respect for people in their own right — also one of Fawcett’s guiding ideas. “Once embraced democratically, respect for people as such forbade power from excluding anyone from the circle of liberal protection.” He calls this “the democratic seed in an otherwise undemocratic creed.”

    Incoherent blather masquerading as analysis. Thanks, Shreeek.

    1. respect for people as such forbade power from excluding anyone from the circle of liberal protection

      You know, unless they are capitalists or while males or southerners or something.

  17. NYT editorial board

    The Fed’s loose policies have pushed up stock, bond and real estate prices ? which is, in fact, the point of a low-rate policy. There is legitimate debate about how overvalued assets may be. But low rates, by fostering investments with borrowed money, invariably create the conditions for bubbles.

    The answer, however, is not to raise rates, slowing the entire economy in order to tame the markets. The answer, laid out in recent remarks by Ms. Yellen and Stanley Fischer, the Fed vice chairman, is to use bank regulation and financial oversight to ensure that institutions and investors do not use low rates as a springboard for speculating.

    That requires identifying and stopping reckless lending of the sort that has surfaced in subprime auto loans and unaffordable student loans. And it requires vigilance for signs of systemic risk in the complex activities that make institutions interdependent. Here the Fed is still too lax, as in its recent indulgence of too-big-too-fail banks that have failed to meet regulatory demands intended to reduce risks and prevent bailouts.

    Central planning will save us from reality. Dump some more Everclear in the punch bowl, Janet, baby!

    1. NYT EDITORIAL BOARD: “Gross Economic Ignorance Parading as Accepted Wisdom”

      “The answer…is to use bank regulation and financial oversight to ensure that institutions and investors do not use low rates as a springboard for speculating”

      LOL

      – the ignorance required for anyone to assert that ‘regulation’ is a more-effective means to achieve an economic result than ‘incentive/disincentive’ (interest rates) is EPIC AND TOTAL.

      I mean, you’d have to go to grad school simply to UNLEARN basic facts in order to believe this. You’d have to misunderstand EVERYTHING ever said to you about finance.

      low returns on treasuries result in trillions in capital moving up the risk-ladder to other asset classes in search of yield. this is *inevitable*. no amount of ‘regulation’ can stop a tidal wave of cash looking for a better risk/return profile. The fact that mortgages were being govt-backed (Fannie/Freddie), they were obviously the better higher-yielding ‘safe’ asset. Demand naturally skyrocketed… to where now, there are tranches of MBS that are made up of things like *trailer parks*

      Yet they seem to think that if they throw more money at the SEC – an institution with a track record of ZERO actual benefit to anyone – ‘bubbles’ will never materialize.

      This is the wisdom of your upper-west-side ‘intellectuals’

      1. I for one welcome our Unicorn regulatory overlords who will prevent the boom/bust cycle via wise governance.

      2. The worse part of this is it actually does match the Fed’s current thinking.

        And, yes, this is going to end very badly.

    2. Dump some more Everclear in the punch bowl, Janet, baby!

      I will merely add that the more appropriate extension of the metaphor is having Ms. Yellen personally monitor everyone’s individual level of intoxication.

      We. Are. Fucked. As. A. Nation.
      Again.

  18. The answer, however, is not to raise rates, slowing the entire economy in order to tame the markets.

    Don’t count the bricks, you guys–just keep building the house until you run out.

    1. If you make the bricks smaller, you have more to pay off unfunded liabilities build your house with!

  19. You’re a cop, not a member of the military. You’re also a civilian so stop using that term in a dismissive manner when speaking of the people who pay your salary.

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