Police Abuse

Cop Cams May Just Empower the Surveillance State

Instead of curbing abuse, cop cams could be surveillance cameras with feet.


The recent police killing of Michael Brown, John Crawford III, and others, including Michelle Cusseaux in my own city of Phoenix, have invigorated a nationwide discussion on both the left and right about police violence. Much of the debate has come to center around police body cameras as one possible way to rein in out of control cops. Even libertarians have begun to consider and advocate for cop cams. Writers at Reason have taken up the claim put forward by aspiring cop-corder manufacturer Steve Ward that "[e]veryone behaves better when they're on video." Indeed, that claim may precisely be part of the problem with body cams, as indicated by the conclusions of a recent Justice Department study of police-worn cameras.

According to the study (emphasis mine):

The use of body-worn video by frontline officers has real potential to reduce complaints of incivility and use of force by officers. The footage can also exonerate officers from vexatious and malicious complaints. In addition, I feel there are benefits to the criminal justice system in terms of more guilty pleas, reduced costs at court, and a reduction in the number of civil cases brought against the police service for unlawful arrest/excessive force. We already have good examples of bodyworn video footage exonerating officers from malicious complaints.

Since when has mass surveillance and an increase in convictions for resisting state authority been a libertarian position? How come the cop dutifully recording dissidents in public with a hand-held camcorder is bad but the officer at the protest (or in your living room) with an even smaller and harder to see camera pinned to his chest is good? Have you noticed that those cameras are pointing at us, not them?

There are several issues raised by cop-cams, not least of all the privacy implications. The expansion of real time streaming police video, evidence collection, linking up with technologies like facial recognition all raise serious concerns that are getting left out of the debate about expanding police surveillance. In a September 6 column in The Guardian, Trevor Timm asks what really ought to be an obvious question for libertarians who have spent much of the post-9/11 era opposing expansions of government spying: "[W]hat would happen if these body-cams were connected to all the other high-tech surveillance gear that's flowing into police departments at a record rate"? With the problem of increasing militarization and technology exchanges between the Department of Defense and local law enforcement now looming large post-Ferguson, this strikes me as no marginal concern.

What's more, statements from manufacturers and police chiefs indicate that they expect these cameras to protect officers first and foremost. In their view, videos will be treated by media, courts and the public as "the truth," which they conflate with the cop's point of view, probably with good reason given the track record. Ward's own company pitches the cameras with the slogan "Made for cops by cops. Prove the truth." Remember what Ward said about behavior and video? He said everyone. Not just cops. Police cameras may lead to less use of force due to the fear factor of having one's every move recorded, but at the cost of increased intimidation and coerced public conformity.

What discussion there has been about cop cams has focused on reliability, invoking the obvious concern about the notoriously "inconsistent" functioning of the technology, which is, of course, a polite way of saying what we all know: cops turn cameras off, sabotage them, and delete videos when inconvenient. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this hasn't raised concomitant questions about the kinds of people who become police or about their role in general. Thus, unfortunately, the discussion has aimed towards improving and making more ubiquitous police surveillance abilities via cop cams.

But there's another larger issue that's getting lost. While police themselves tout the supposed objectivity of the video, we need to consider the context in which cop cam evidence will be perceived and presented. A recent poll by the Remington Research Group about attitudes toward police violence in Ferguson showed stark differences when broken down by race. It's entirely possible that whites and blacks have different expectation not just from the police, but also in terms of how the footage from police cameras will be used. Considering the way that the American system of policing and punishment already disproportionately targets people of color, for example, it seems reasonable to conclude that video evidence will be interpreted by the system and the public at large through a very biased lens. Think about it in terms of who will get labeled a thug for resisting or even experiencing police violence and who will not.

At least that's what the Remington Research Group poll strongly suggests. In that case, police evidence, carrying with it the authority of the police, will only further entrench racist public opinions on use of force and likely continue to express itself concretely in similarly biased outcomes in court. Let's harken back here to the Justice Department's assertion that police video cameras will lead to more convictions and plea agreements. Police cameras may not be the great equalizer that boosters say they are, especially if all the underlying conditions of policing remains the same, racial profiling most obvious among them.

But if reforming the police is the aim, rather than, say, questioning the underlying assumptions behind the police and their monopoly on violence, there are better ways to do it, ways that don't reward out of control police with more expensive hi-tech toys. Use of force rules could be modified to include the consideration of police behavior that escalates a confrontation. Few Americans, especially white Americans, understand just how quickly an officer can escalate a confrontation to the point where force enters the equation and, most importantly, where someone's natural tendency to act in self-defense can lead to serious charges. Changing these rules, which in most jurisdictions currently only consider the moment of the specific act of violence, to take into account the entirety of the confrontation can make officers think twice.

Or, we could abolish the police union, allowing for the quick termination of abusive officers rather than the long, drawn out and overwhelmingly pro-cop internal review process that predominates now. We can stop giving vets hiring preference so that aggro ex-soldiers don't set the bar for the rest of the squad. Hiring female cops has been shown to reduce use of force. We could de-militarize police, reversing the money, technology and weapons funnel that has beefed up American police agencies in the first place. Selling off the massive weapons caches could have many benefits, not just restricted to public safety. In my own state, given our Southwest heritage, I've often joked, half-seriously, about replacing the cops' guns and Tasers with lassos. Giving police officers more ways to use force generally leads to more uses of force, as a 2011 Arizona ACLU study on Taser use determined.

And, if we want to consider a more radical move, we could just start taking complaints against police seriously. Some research has shown as many as a stunning 99 percent of complaints go uninvestigated, with police review boards and internal investigations units serving the function of active defense for the cops rather than the disciplining apparatus they are, at least on paper, supposed to be.

So before we go throwing more money and technology at the police with great potential cost to freedom, let's first consider some of the other options. Turning the police into walking surveillance cameras, with all the attendant civil liberties problems, is likely to be a choice that we regret, and at the least shouldn't be a proposition that libertarians and others concerned about the expansion of the government's spy apparatus embrace.


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  1. Since when has mass surveillance and an increase in convictions for resisting state authority been a libertarian position?


    1. Of course the idea is that we will have actual video evidence of what the accused actually did or did not do, rather than just having to take Officer Friendly’s word for it. And the actions of the cop will mostly be evident as well. I fail to see why this is a bad thing given what we are dealing with right now.

      1. It could be a bad thing, given that the video will be under the control of the police. The cops have, as a class, demonstrated that they cannot be trusted not to tamper with the evidence.

        A better solution might be legislation that explicitly states that police may not arrest a citizen taking video unless the citizen is expressly violating the law in some other manner, that recording a police encounter is not EVER interfering with police, and that there is never a justification for confiscating a recording. A rider should make it law that where a recording entered police custody and has disappeared it will be assumed to contradict the police version of events and all police responsible for that version or for the recording are subject to sanctions for perjury.

        1. This is isn’t an either/or situation. Cops should have mandatory badge cameras on them. A cop who ‘loses’ his camera after a questionable encounter is going to look pretty unreliable when a defense attorney has a chance to question him.

          Will abuse still happen? Of course. But the opportunities will be less. I’d much rather see the video than listen to either sides memory of what they think happened.

          1. I’d much rather see the video than listen to either sides memory of what they think happened.

            Because video can never tell a lie?

            I’d hate to testify against a video that had been in police custody from start to finish.

            1. Why should police even control the video in the first place? There is no reason why the video couldnt be streamed to a third party for safe keeping.

              1. Now THIS is an excellent, common sense, politically neutral solution! I really, really, really, like this idea.
                In case you missed it, I think this one the best ideas I have heard/read in a while.
                Stream everything to the ACLU, or a board whose members are half appointed by the Police Union and half by the ACLU,
                or even better, why not just stream them to a public server, so that EVERYONE can access them, in real time!?!?!
                Really, MOFO, this is a GREAT IDEA! (Which, of course, means that it will never happen, [sad face] )

            2. Actually, it’s harder than that to fabricate a video that will withstand forensic analysis. When you can slow down the frame rate to allow individual analysis of each frame at the pixel level, then analyze every aspect of the video data – and the metadata – forgeries are possible, but unlikely to be successful. Add an automatic and unappealable DEATH PENALY for any such doctored evidence, and you take all the fun out of it.

      2. I am for cop cams. Especially since the dashboard cams can only see so much. Why shouldnt cops be watched like a bartender is watched by a corporation for complying with all of the federal and company rules and regulations. I definitely feel there should no longer be closed areas where there cannot be a feed.

  2. What’s more, statements from manufacturers and police chiefs indicate that they expect these cameras to protect officers first and foremost.

    How do you think they’re going to get police unions to sign off on them?

    1. Having those body cams on when the union is doing contract negotions with local govt officials would stop more crime than wearing them on the beat. Live stream, of course.

    2. This. Don’t read too much into the official statements made by various people. Telling cops to wear cameras all the time is a big deal. Cops don’t want to be monitored all the time anymore than anyone else does, so everyone is going to have to pretend that it’s really a benefit to the police.

      And it is, because if they do in fact behave better when on camera, then in 10 or 20 years a lot of public trust in law enforcement might return, and with justification. That would be good for everyone.

      1. What do you mean public trust might return? The polls show the public overwhelmingly LOVES the police as we are force for good and recognized as such unlike you bigorati who gotta bigorate.

        1. I think smooches would like the body cams. He probably be posing in the mirror doing…

        2. The polls show the public overwhelmingly believes in angels, too.

            1. Well, after that whole luciferian incident, they had to enforce the mandates of heaven somehow.

              Hrmmm… An Old Testament grade Angel Cop would be a nightmare. Especially if they were asleep for the past three millenia.

              Thanks, this idea goes right alongside the Reforger Chassis.

            2. No. It is: every time a cop dies an angel gets its wings.

  3. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this hasn’t raised concomitant questions about the kinds of people who become police or about their role in general.

    A separate issue that I believe has been brought up. Admittedly, the man-in-blue-as-hero factor has made that discussion difficult, the increased video footage of state thuggery has inched the topic forward.

    1. Basically, three kinds:

      1) The guy who wants to save the world,
      2) The guy who just wants an interesting job with a good paycheck that doesn’t require much education,
      3) Little Hitlers – assholes who get off on ordering people around and beating them up or killing them. Psychopaths.

      Class 1 pretty much died off in the 1950s. Class 2 hasn’t changed much, but there are more who only want the money and bennies and don’t much care about the job. It’s the explosion of class 3 that is the problem… and the fact that those in class 2 won’t rock the boat by turning in the lil Hitlers for fear of losing their paycheck.

  4. Use of force rules could be modified to include the consideration of police behavior that escalates a confrontation.

    Okay, if you’re not going to offer reasonable suggestions we just can’t have a conversation.

    1. Holy shit, Fist, slow down on the caffeine.

      1. Give him another cup, he’s on a roll.

        1. Give him some of this:


            1. Fail

                1. You disgust me.

                  1. you disgust me

                    Because I am running test, breaking links, suggesting killing FOE, using non-coffee source of caffeine, a lizard person, or some other reason?

                  2. You disgust me.

                    Yes, I disgust you with everyone I know, and we all agree you’re disgusting.


                2. Ok sugar free where am I failing? Why are my renamed links SF’d

                  1. You think the Master shares his knowledge so easily? When you can take the link from his hands before he can close them, then and only then will you be ready.

                  2. The first one works, so it must be in your a href.

                    Powered caffeine

                    But then I’m completely lazy and use the linking feature of reasonable on Chrome.

                    1. yeah, I can never seem to get the reasonable thing to work right, and I use Chrome, also, as well, too.
                      Just copy-paste the html code from here,, then paste in your unique url and text, making sure there are no extra spaces or missed end carats, etc.
                      Also, use the “preview” button to make sure it works before clicking on the “submit” button. See how easy it is?

      2. Holy shit, Fist, slow down on the caffeine.


        Oh, wait, a bunch of people did.

  5. I fully expect the data windfall that may come from widespread use of bodycams by cops to be properly isolated from Homeland and disposed of without perusal by outside govt agencies. I propose the storage of all video on Lerner’s hard drive to guarantee spontaneous combustion.

    1. *snerk*

  6. Damnit I’m stuck on the crapper. Florida Man! light the Dunphy Signal!

    1. Why is there a searchlight on that cloud that reminds me of Morgan Fairchild?

      1. Oh, I thought it was Morgan Freeman! This completely changes my understanding of Dunphy.

        1. Damn. I thought he was talking about Morganna.

    2. *frantically looks for a box of donuts to set on cop pyre*

  7. Well my mind has been changed. Plus when you consider that citizen-worn cameras may soon be ubiquitous, police body cams may be unnecessary.

    1. The po-po will call for a constitutional amendment banning them.

      1. There is a law passed every week in some jurisdiction to exactly that. They know it will be struck down but it scares the locals for several years until it’s enforced and fought in the courts and then overturned. There are many places with draconian wiretapping laws that people are afraid to challenge.

      2. What does the 2nd “po” of “po-po” stand for? I get that the 1st is an abbr. for “police”.

        1. Or is it like “pp.” as the plural of “p.”?

        2. Do not be a racist! The logical structuring of any language, including Ebonics, is not for right-wing, racist, and anti-equality types to question!
          “Police” becomes “po-po” for the same reason that “ask” becomes “axe”: namely, the public school system that YOU payed for! So, it is YOUR fault!
          You racist, misogynist, monocle-wearing, child-enslaving libertarian! Why do you hates the childrunz so? WHY?

          (Also, “po-po” is close to “poo-poo”, I’m just saying…)

  8. Even libertarians have begun to consider and advocate for cop cams.

    WTF does that even mean? Even libertarians have taken up the issue? Like, we’d be the last you’d ever think would take up the issue? What next? Even libertarians are advocating for lower taxes? I don’t get it.

    1. Like many they’re ignorant of libertarians, thinking we’re for some vague idea of liberty that would be appalled at poor police employees being ‘forced’ to be under the surveillance of management.

      1. I read it to mean we support more government surveillance because the cameras are aimed at the citizens vs the officers.

    2. Yes, this moron should have looked back on this site. I’ve been pushing cop cams for at least 3 years and so have some others. Surveillance of the police is not the same as police surveillance.

      1. The cameras aren’t pointed at the cops. They’re pointed at us. They’re not watching the cops. They’re watching us.

        1. This is such a laughable argument. Of course they are pointed at the civilian how else would they work. No one ever argues that the joystick civil rights heroes filming their routine traffic stops are somehow behaving illegimatley because they are pointing their cameras at the cops.

          This whole article is basically a strategically-minded libertarian realizing “oh wait people act really shitty when stopped by the police even when they are completely in the wrong.” Of course in typical comsotarian fashion he has to blame white people for this since along among the races whites seem to form their opinions of other races based on the “wrong” information.

          1. The point as I read it was that unless cops actually face consequences for their illegal actions, cameras won’t make a whit of a difference.

            1. Rodney King changed that.

              I understand his point — the next step is that the government will analyze recordings of protests etc from all the cop cams. But this is pointless unless we ban all police from having any cameras. As it is, there are so many public recordings of protests that cop cams will add nothing.

              The point he misses is that all his counter-proposals are utopian and will never get implemented. Cop cams have a much better chance of coming to fruition, and they apparently do a better job of reforming police and taming angry encounters on both sides.

              1. There is no evidence so far that even persuades me that cops will change their behavior just because they’re wearing cameras. They will continue to file false reports, lie in court, beat people for fun, steal their stuff, and even commit murder. And nothing else will happen. Cameras or no cameras. It is human nature to keep doing what you’re doing if you face no consequences for it.

                Which means the cameras will only be used against the citizens.

                1. All of that is much more difficult if you every move is recorded.

      2. Look man – its obvious libertarians just sit around smoking pot and having anal sex with illegal mexicans.

        I mean, where were we on complaining about police militarization before it became ‘trendy’ with Ferguson?

        Yeah I thought so – fucking TOLD!

        1. libertarians just sit around smoking pot and having anal sex with illegal mexicans.

          Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  9. Federal judge finds Ferguson police tactic unconstitutional

    ” A federal judge ruled on Monday that some of the tactics employed by the St. Louis police force in Ferguson against demonstrators were unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a preliminary injunction ordering the St. Louis police force to stop its blanket use of the “keep-moving rule”?also known as the “five second rule”?that required protesters to continue moving during demonstrations or face arrest”


    1. Heard that on the radio on the drive home. Didn’t hear anything about not pointing loaded guns at peaceful protesters though. Or the threat to shoot a journalist caught on video.

  10. It’s just a harmless camera, what do you have to hide, Brian Thomas, if that’s your real name. Oh wait…

  11. The real danger lies in the gullible public. There is already plenty of evidence of outright criminal behavior by the police that gets ignored, even unambiguous video evidence (eg. “But what happen before the cameras started rolling?!?”)

    Given that the body cameras will not be secure and impossible to disable, the gullibles will start to think the problem has been solved because the worst stuff will just be gone.

    FFS, the cops can toss a grenade into a child’s bed, burn half his face off and walk away with their boots thoroughly licked by a grand jury.

    1. That grenade accidentally lobbed itself, get it straight.

      1. …grenades were lobbed… babies were burned…

    2. I’m on an iPad so linking is a PIA but,

      There were some studies that showed in places were cams had been used for several years that the police forgot about them and the rates of brutality started climbing again. In some cases the footage simply disappeared like dash cam footage mostly seems too.

      1. Which goes back to MOFO’s incredibly brilliant yet simple idea: stream the video to a third party!
        If the video stops, then it is obvious that the camera has been tampered with, and since the cop is the one wearing the camera, we may assume it is he who is tampering, or at least put the burden of proof on him that it WASN’T him who was tampering with the camera.
        I suspect an immediate reduction in police brutality complaints, not because, as Dunphy (or the new/fake Dunphy) claims, it exonerates innocent cops, but because thugs are smart enough to keep their vioence in check when they know they are being watched. And if not, then the PD gets an excuse to get rid of thugs who are too stupid to realize they are being filmed.
        The old saying was “An armed society is a polite society.” Perhaps the modern corollary is that “A watched cop is a polite cop”.

        1. Once-upon-a-time, my now departed wife was an idiot, and started some shit with a gang-banger on the west side of Denver, where we lived. (WEST-SIDE, BABY! [throws gang signs]) Long story short, shots were fired into the house, wife was hurt, names were ran, I was arrested for outstanding warrant for failure to appear.
          OK, was totally my fault, the warrant that is. I just thought that, perhaps, an attempted murder and gang activity might, slightly, outweigh an overlooked traffic citation.
          Upon expressing this opinion, in, perhaps, NOT the most civil of language, I was taken to an outside area where there were no streetlamps or other lights, and advised to “shut the fuck up. There is no one here to see what happens to you.” This while I was in cuffs (because the boys-in-blue are not nothing if not brave).
          Of course, Denver DID hire the ex-chief of police from LA, so perhaps my surprise was unwarranted.

    3. The real danger lies in the gullible public.


      The only time you’re going to see the bodycam footage is when it supports the cop – leading people to believe that, if 100% of the time I’ve seen bodycam footage it’s supported the cop, it must mean that the cop was right 100% of the time – including all the times the bodycam was mysteriously not working properly or the footage was accidentally lost.

      If 100% of the evidence you see supports one conclusion, it’s easy to think that 100% of the evidence you don’t see probably also supports that same conclusion if you’re gullible. A more cynical person might suspect that 100% of the evidence you don’t see does not support that conclusion and that that is precisely the reason why you aren’t seeing that evidence.

    4. But you could make the same complaint about any reform, i.e. that people will think things are “reformed”. Better keep everything unreformed, huh? So we can keep cursing the darkness, I suppose.

      1. Yes, these objections are silly. If footage disappears, that is not going to make the cop in question look like a trust worthy source. Granted, the jury will make up it’s own mind, but the idea that we’ll be worse off with badge cameras is just silly.

        1. Why should the cops even be in control of that? If your concern is that the cops will disable or lose footage, then dont give them that ability.

          1. Exactly! I have actually become excited. You germinated an incredibly powerful idea: have the cops wear body cams that are sent to a pubic server in real time!
            There are some privacy issues, of course, but surely those are easier to iron out than the gross misconduct and rampant corruption of supposedly civilian agencies declaring war against the very people they are sworn to “serve and protect”!

      2. No, No, don’t light that damn candle! Just keep cursing the darkness!

  12. I suppose you will advocate disabling all those dash-cams as well. Those have proven useful in exposing police (and citizen) misconduct in many cases. And I haven’t heard any complaints about privacy concerns. Are those so different?

  13. Cops are already treated as walking security cameras by the courts; anything they claim to have seen, heard, smelled or sensed telepathically is treated as the truth. So given that anytime a cop can see you you’re essentially under surveillance anyway, I don’t see how installing a camera, which at least can’t commit blatant perjury when it feels like it, can hurt things.

    1. a camera, which at least can’t commit blatant perjury when it feels like it

      Yet. AI is coming, and some of them will want to be cops too.

    2. Exactly this. Police lie in court and are deferred to basically 100% of the time. VIdeo at least has some ability to tell the truth.

    3. Exactly this.

      1. Screw you “Super” Kevin Horlock, if that is your real name!


  15. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this hasn’t raised concomitant questions about the kinds of people who become police or about their role in general.

    Probably because we all know what kind of people become cops and how they’re protected by the Just Us system.

    Steal a guys money, claim you were just keeping it safe until you found out whose money it was and the prosecutor will drop the theft charges – if you’re a cop.

  16. It’s not an entirely invalid position, ideologically speaking. Not many of us I believe are comfortable with, say, London’s ubiquitous CCTV system. Body cams do are state agents recording the public, too. The difference in my mind is that police body cams are only recording police interactions with their fellow citizens. It’s not the same catchall as police CCTV.

    1. So, less Big Brother and more Fat Uncle?

  17. Even libertarians have begun to consider and advocate for cop cams

    Really? Why should I bother reading this?

  18. Oh, okay, change use of force rules at about 9,000 jurisdictions nationwide and “abolish police unions.”

    Sorry author, here I get off the bus. When you have a serious proposal that could actually get traction in a non-fantasy world I might get back on.

    More police cameras – probably better than what we have now. One could argue that more cameras on PEOPLE would be best, but then when those all link up to twatbook or whatever in a completely unregulated environment I would suggest the implications for freedom and privacy are even more dire.

    And wouldn’t “elimination of false and malicious complaints against police” be a societal good? Don’t get me wrong – I hate the bastards in general. But whenever I hear someone claim police brutality in the absence of video evidence I think:
    A) fascist thug cops doing what they do; or,
    B) scumbag trying to gin up a sleazy lawsuit.

    At least you could eliminate B as an option, no?

    1. You have no expectation of privacy in public and the more technology advances the less privacy you should expect to have in public. This is no threat to liberty or freedom.

    2. abolish police union … [not] a serious proposal

      Calvin Coolidge and the Boston police commissioner broke the Boston police strike in 1919 and kept unions out of the Boston police force for decades. It has happened before and it can happen again.

      This of course has little bearing on body cameras yea or nay, but it is as “serious” as you wish it to be.

  19. The only way this would be beneficial is if the police had no ability to turn them off and the footage was uploaded to a secure server they had no access to. Otherwise they will just game the system or turn them off if something looks like it might escalate.

    1. A piece of electrical tape defeats all that. “Gee, Sarge… I guess my arm was in front of it or something.”

      We need drones that follow them around.

      1. Which is why in the end breaking the unions and ending immunity in the real answer.

  20. Or, we could abolish the police union, allowing for the quick termination of abusive officers rather than the long, drawn out and overwhelmingly pro-cop internal review process that predominates now. We can stop giving vets hiring preference so that aggro ex-soldiers don’t set the bar for the rest of the squad. Hiring female cops has been shown to reduce use of force. We could de-militarize police, reversing the money, technology and weapons funnel that has beefed up American police agencies in the this?first place.

    Holy shit, how could we not have thought of this?

    Also, it’s all RACISM, all the time, I guess.

    1. Most military have higher standards of when to use deadly force in combat zones than the police have domestically. They have and continue to be prosecuted for things the police walk on all the time. I’m not saying hiring ptsd soldiers is a good idea.

      You could break the unions and end immunity and overnight 80% of complaints would disappear.

  21. In some cases the footage simply disappeared like dash cam footage mostly seems too.

    There is also a recurring theme in which the crucial part of the interaction just happens to occur out of range of the dash cam.

  22. Dumphy must be surfing naked while lifting weights and having sex with Morgan Fairchild otherwise he would be posting police one links like a madman. This is clearly designed for him.

    Smooches bitches


  23. Considering the way that the American system of policing and punishment already disproportionately targets people of color, for example, it seems reasonable to conclude that video evidence will be interpreted by the system and the public at large through a very biased lens.

    But it’s much better when cops simply testify and give their “recollections” of what happened, without any video evidence to corroborate or refute them, because no one evaluates cop evidence through a biased lens.

  24. Lets roll with those punches. WOw.


  25. Christ, more absurd handwringing. Classically speaking worries about the surveillance state have primarily centered around surveillance in areas where people would normally have an expectation of privacy.

    Unlike parabolic microphones or high-powered telescopes or infrared cameras or a science-fiction like television that watches you as you watch it all body cameras do is record what a cop otherwise sees with his eyes.

    True to form it’s not privacy or cop misconduct that some of these nitwits are worried about, its cops having tools to actually prove the crimes they observe versus he said she said which often results in the guilty going free and the innocent sometimes getting convicted, and gives people lots of leeway to accuse innocent cops of shit they didn’t do and accuse everyday people of shit didn’t do as well.

    Not to mention that due to the modern technology aka cellphones this is technology that pretty much every Tom Dick and Harry walk around in public to film you at any time any time they want without any repercussions

    1. It’s not evil double standard cop technology

      If you want to walk around with a cam, do it

      For libertines versus libertarians it’s not about privacy it’s about wanting wanted persons to be better able to avoid detection as in that cyborg cop article or in this case about wanting people to be able to get away with crimes that occur in front of cops eyes

      And contrary to the usual DUmb argument about double standards any dingdong walking around in public can film whatever he can see with his eyes and carps absolutely should have the same latitude to do the same

      We finally have a tool that can better hold bad cops accountable, substantially decrease the already very rare excessive force and that can better hold average joes accountable for false complaints and for crimes they commit in an officer’s presence. but libertines want a society where it’s all about accusations not proof

      I don’t like cop misconduct or crime and now we have technology that helps hold people accountable in both cases without violating the privacy of either, and still the same people that complain that it’s too hard to hold cops ACCOUNTABLE for excessive force (yes, God forbid cop suspects have due process), want to complain about the thing that will reduce misconduct and better hold them accountable AND protect them from false accusations AND help to convict those that they witness committing crimes against others or cops

      1. All this illogical contradictory wanking is irrelevant anyway:
        There are already a metric ass load of cameras being used in houses , yards, etc that catch people doing stuff on surveillance without any govt involvement

        And unlike cop Bodycams, they are placed in all sorts of private locations where many people think they do have privacy

        One of the main crime prevention tips we give out and it really works well is having people install cameras and a substantial number of the strong cases we make arenot because of our surveillance but because some guy got some cams on his property, Tyrone you silly fat bastard!

        There is already an expectation that anything you say to Or do in front of a cop is something that he can put in a police report and that you may be held responsible for so it’s hardly any issue that instead of merely writing it and having to deal with memory issues credibility issues and he said she said crap he’s going to have a objective record of what really happened

        Rampart scandals, Cops getting jammed up for doing the right thing, and people getting away with crimes they commit right in front of a Cop -they are largely going to be things of the past

        Citizen review boards, body cameras, and portable biometrics!

        BOOYA! helping to punish the guilty, protect the innocent, restore the victim, and we finally have an answer to the age old conundrum of ‘who watches the watchers?’

        And the pantywaist libertines whinge on.

        1. Your devotion to law enforcement without boundaries is boundless.

          -Citizen review boards: a practical joke in many cases. These review boards are often lined with people like you which makes them absolutely worthless

          -Body cameras: They continue to fail to indict malevolent cops

          -Portable biometrics: A cop tool. Like his gloves. It doesn’t belong in a conversation about police accountability.

          You lack the ability to question authority and recognize its excesses and corruption which calls into question your ability to reason.

      2. This is what I don’t understand when did libertarianism sign up for the “prevent fugitives from being identified and captured” movement. I don’t understand how that has any constituency at all. The ability to evade the police is not some natural right being abridged. True justice would require that all law breakers were immediately apprehended. In fact if that were the case then maybe libertarians could roll back some of the laws they find so distasteful.

        1. Justice is an absence of injustice. It has absolutely nothing to do with the law, especially when the law itself is unjust.

          1. That isn’t even close to what justice is anymore than wealth equals an absence of poverty. What a silly word game.

        2. True justice would require that all law breakers were immediately apprehended.

          The conflation of law enforcement with justice is on the same order as the conflation of socialism with well-being.

          Saying that the state exists to provide justice is equally absurd as saying that the state exists to provide welfare.

          Insofar as the state has a function with regard to the punishment of crimes, it exists to provide a socially acceptable outlet for revenge and a deterrent against criminal activity.

          That is not justice, even if it were necessary.

  26. Aggro ex-soldiers? Shit, I know guys who are collecting 100% service disability who were cops! Recruited by the Sheriff’s department right after the C.I.A. debriefed them.

  27. The author has some valid points in a perfect world. There is no doubt that police agencies would link the technology to software (facial recognition, license plate readers) that would further infringe on basic civil liberties. I still believe they are a good start though. The key (again, perfect world scenario) is to break the unions and then eliminate internal affairs. Police will never police themselves properly (nor would doctors, mechanics, accountants, etc..). The citizen review board model was a start but without any teeth, has proven ineffectual. Find a way to break the union and institute a professional Police review board and you will be on the right track.

    1. Police will never police themselves properly (nor would doctors, mechanics, accountants, etc..).

      Actually, it is precisely the case that members of those professions can and do police themselves. The role of the state can present itself in the enforcement of contracts between professionals and clients, but as we have seen a greater role by the state in “policing” professions leads to a favoring of mediocrity and deflection of responsibility for the politically connected.

      The difference between police officers and other professionals is that only the police have occupational license to violate the liberties of others and escalate the use of force.

    2. Engineers have a Professional Engineer (PE) Board. Gross negligence may also have financial implications that typically don’t get resolved except in court. Of course, when you fuck up as an engineer word gets around. Unless you move you’ll likely get fewer contracts.

  28. I don’t know if this has been addressed, but how about adding police bodycam footage to the Miranda Warning.
    “You have a right to download and view before your court appearance, all video footage concerning your case.”
    If the officer turns off the bodycam, or dashcam the case gets thrown out of court.

    1. There are other ways this can be used. Social media pressure, A lawsuit from a victims family for denial of 5th Amendment rights.

  29. I’m in the camp that has zero faith in police cams.

    They are useless in front of a legal system that turns a blind eye to video evidence proving cop abuse and ultimately cop cams will be turned into atrocious surveillance tools that in a glance will reveal every aspect of your personhood to people who have no business having access to that information without a warrant served in light of serious crime.

    It is clear that the constitution has failed to adequately protect the citizenry from an aggressive government.

    I believe it is time for additional constitutional amendments that further isolates power from the powerless. The federal government on down to the local township has become so granular and widespread in its legal codes that almost anything can be created at the legislative level that practically nullifies constitutional rights.

    1. Maybe an amendment that guarantees the right to keep and bear arms?

      Maybe one that protects us from search and seizure, or that guarantees due process?

      1. It’s clearly not enough, sarcasmic. Law has been created all over this country that does end-runs around the simple and straightforward message of the constitution.

    2. “I believe it is time for additional constitutional amendments that further isolates power from the powerless.”

      ^^^^ This.

      1. I’m not being snarky when I say I honestly don’t understand what this means. We want to continue to strip power from those that don’t have it? Is this a practical argument, ie take more power from citizens who are powerless in police interactions? Or is it aspirational, ie government was never intended to have this power and we need more constitutional amendments to make them as powerless as they were originally intended?

        1. Or is it aspirational, ie government was never intended to have this power and we need more constitutional amendments to make them as powerless as they were originally intended?

          You do understand.

          1. Danke, kind sir.

  30. I’m not going “all in” for body cams, but without this dash cam this story likely would have been told much differently: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b1EdDhmvvVA

  31. No, the Bill of Rights, although not perfect, is pretty good. The problem is that the Government, all branches, have decided that the BORs get in the way of Doing Things. So they have all collaborated on defenestrating the Constitution (“Are you serious?”)
    The problem is both simple and complex. Simple because of this: WE, THE PEOPLE, let it happen.
    An educated and aware electorate, together with a media, and educational system, that was not simply an arm of the uneducated, “progressive”, pro-socialist Left, would simply not put up with this bullshit.
    There are examples in American history. The original Tea Party, the Bonus Army, Nat Turner, etc., all are examples of Men With Balls.
    Unfortunately, today we have an electorate that has been somnambulised with the modern equivalent of bread and circuses. Who do NOT care about their rights, unless they are directly affected, or unless they cannot buy the newest iphone.
    Face it, a nation gets the government it deserves, and a small group of Libertarians, as appalled and outraged as they may be, can simply not resist the momentum of 300 million sheep.

  32. Are there laws anywhere forbidding police (or any gov’t employee) from preventing or discouraging the filming of gov’t workers in the performance of their jobs? Establishing that there is no expectation of privacy in such situations? Forbidding the confiscation of cameras or memory cards? If police claim that a recording of a crime in progress (such as “resisting arrest”) is material evidence, they would be limited to making an on-site copy. Seems to me that a Federal “right of transparency” law would go a long way to placing on notice all gov’t employees who have authority to use force or make arbitrary judgements.

  33. If a cop turns off his camera, or deletes footage, or intentionally damages the camera – 90 days in jail and automatic dismissal with no possibility of ever being rehired as a LEO… plus ever assertion against the officer during the time the camera was out-of-action is treated with the presumption that it is true. So a cop switches off a camera to verbally abuse someone – a complaint of verbal abuse is assumed to be true, and must be DISproved by the officer.

    Regular uploads of camera footage to a central repository would be essential. Every time a cop goes back to the station, or back to his car, the footage automatically uploads. If a section of the record is missing, if the camera malfunctions, he gets hauled in right then to answer for it.

    Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping police attack dogs on a shorter leash rests with the People. The morons on the grand jury who found no problem with pigs tossing flash bangs into a toddlers crib, for example, are as much a part of the problem as the feral police themselves.

  34. This was the most worthless article I ever read on Reason.com. This is not my primarily account – Here on reason. I will remain a militant libertarian. But, I am immediately stopping all financial support of Reason and urge everyone to do the same. Brian has gone full retard. Supporting him or a place that supplies him with a platform for such delusional fear mongering (fixed chest level cameras) are going to aide the surveillance stat is an imminent threat. These cameras are not magical. No one is calling for parabolic mics, PTZ, flir or telescoping cams mounted on cops. LOLOLOL

    With OSINT, ELINT, SOCMINT and SIGINT or even WAPS…. The benefits of this far outweigh any negative. It might have saved my friend.

    If there is evidence that the surveillance state is working in secret to put more sophisticated cameras on LE and utilize them with current unconstitutional programs or surveillance then present it. All I see is paranoid trite drivel. His mommy must be a cop.

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