Minneapolis to Adopt Cop Cams: Video of Baltimore Cop Assault on Citizen Shows Why This Is A Great Idea


Cop Cams

If the police have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear about being required to wear video cameras. The Associated Press is reporting that 36 police officers will begin wearing body cameras next week. If they prove effective, then body cameras will be issued to the entire department by the end of 2015. Requiring police to wear video cameras should be universally adopted sooner rather than later.

In my 2013 column, "Watched Cops Are Polite Cops," I reported:

Earlier this year, a 12-month study by Cambridge University researchers revealed that when the city of Rialto, California, required its cops to wear cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers dropped by almost 60 percent.

People who know that they are on camera (unless it's part of the Real Housewives franchise) tend to act better. The Baltimore Sun is reporting that a city cop has been charged with assault and perjury after his sucker punch attack on a citizen was revealed on a video from a city surveillance camera. See below.

The fact that it took three months for the Baltimore surveillance camera video to surface highlights the need to establish speedy and secure chain-of-custody rules for video taken by body-worn cameras. In my "Watched Cops Are Polite Cops" column, I outlined some rules for the proper handling of cop videos including that officers should notify people that they are being recorded; officers should be subject to stiff disciplinary sanctions if they fail to turn on their cameras each time they interact with the public; failure to record an incident for which a patrolman is accused of misconduct should create a presumption against that officer; and videos should be retained for no more than 30 to 60 days, unless flagged.

In its September series, "Undue Force," the Baltimore Sun reported that the city has paid out $5.7 million in taxpayer funds since January 2011 over lawsuits claiming that police brazenly beat up alleged suspects. The newspaper noted that sum would cover the price of a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. And that the payments didn't count the $5.8 million spent by the city on legal fees to defend these claims brought against police. It seems to me that the city can't afford not to equip its officers with cameras.

To reiterate, requiring police officers to wear video cameras…

…will accomplish an important democratic task as well: turning the tables on the functionaries of the surveillance state. It gives citizens better protection against police misconduct and against violations of their constitutional rights. And it protects good cops against unfair accusations, too.

NEXT: Longtime President of Burkina Faso Resigns After Violent Protests

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Hell ya!!!!

    The more Bodycams the better

    In a decade, they will be as ubiquitous as belt proof vests!!!!

    1. they will be as ubiquitous as belt proof vests!!!!

      Attacks with suspenders are common then?

  2. The fact that it took three months for the Baltimore surveillance camera video to surface highlights the need to establish speedy and secure chain-of-custody rules for video taken by body-worn cameras.

    Yeah, well, good luck with that one.

  3. Note that a recent article in a law enforcement journal reinforced what I’ve been saying for years

    Police chiefs in agencies that adopted body cams were most surprised at how many complaints turned out to be utterly fabricated rubbish or grossly exaggerated

    I can guarantee you now that we will be getting rock solid proof of slanderous etc complaints on many occasions, our unions Will do what I’m sure our administrators won’t which is seek civil compensation when appropriate for fast complaints and pressure prosecutors to charge criminally for same

    Another big advantage is that bodycare is so often provide rock solid evidence of the crime the officers investigating or a crime that happens as he is investigating like resisting et cetera

    There are so many cases that evolve from a minor and hard to prove he said she said case into a rocksolid criminal case against the suspect such as the one I posted the other day where the cop had to break the window to get the woman out of the car she sued and was eventually found guilty but without the body camera evidence it would’ve been a huge incident and of course the race card would’ve been trotted out. Or the New Mexico case where the dui suspect accused the cop falsely of sex assault and the body camera proved she lied

    Booya body cameras.

    1. The same was true of dashcams. However, we’re discovering how many of those claims are real as well. We’re also discovering how ubiquitous lying is among police officers. Even in relatively minor affairs where no violence takes place, but where justifications for searches are made etc.

      The prevalence of cameras is also, in my opinion, largely responsible for the recent undermining of support for the police, because people are discovering just how widespread this shit is.

      1. Of course a huge benefit of body cameras and dash cams as I’ve said 1 million times is that they help discover officer misconduct and Hold them accountable

        I have seen no evidence that what you say has happened in other words I see no evidence of an erosion in public confidence with police since cameras were introduced and that’s because they recognise how rarely the misconduct happens

        Do you have evidence that conflicts with my understanding?

        Dash Cameras unfortunately only cover a small percentage of officers incidents and the more coverage we have officers on videotape the better

        We are also starting to see more and more clear examples of officer heroism caught on body cameras and that’s another huge benefit that is going to greatly benefit police in my opinion

        I wish I could’ve had a body camera on many occasions during my career and while I’ve been cited for bravery on some occasions I am sure that the administration will be more responsive when there was crystal clear evidence of what happened in many more incidents

        Body cameras also decrease the power that internal affairs have to fuck with officers and unjustifiably discipline them for stuff they didn’t do because the officers can better defend themselves with camera evidence

        I am absolutely stoked for body cameras and hopefully soon my administration will recognize the benefit

        1. You don’t see evidence of the erosion of public confidence in the police because people who don’t trust the police generally don’t advertize it. They don’t want to invite trouble.

          You don’t see the people who are crime victims but don’t call the cops because when they’ve done so in the past they were the ones who were treated like criminals.

          You don’t see the people who hold you in contempt because they know better than to express their opinion to your face.

          All you see are the fools who naively believe you do a service for the community, because they’ve never been a victim of a crime and/or never seen a cop write a false report.

        2. Frankly, the only thing that’s been eroding my confidence in police recently is you. You really are a lousy spokesperson for police.

  4. My neighbor’s mother-in-law makes $88 hourly on the laptop . She has been out of work for 8 months but last month her check was $21643 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    Have a peek at this website. ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  5. I could be wrong but if and when police object to wearing the cameras mentioned, a reasonable conclusion might well be that they feel they have or actually do have something to hide.

  6. It’s the vile, rotten, lying, dirtbag scum in law enforcement that give the other .000001% a bad name.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.