Police Abuse

Police Discover Their Body Camera Programs Don't Have To Be Good To Snag Federal Funds

LAPD offers little by way of public accountability and gets $1 million anyway.

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For their eyes only
Wolfcom police cameras

Earlier in the year the Department of Justice announced $20 million in grants would be available for law enforcement agencies to buy body cameras and provide training for their officers. At the time, I noted it as a potential positive development but warned to keep an eye out for the actual policies law enforcement agencies implement. Body cameras don't exactly do much good if what they capture is kept secret from the public.

I used the Los Angeles Police Department's proposed plans as a warning. At the time former Reason Assistant Editor Matt Feeney (now at the Cato Institute) took note that L.A.'s proposed plans would allow officers to review the body camera footage before being interviewed by investigators in incidents where police behavior was an issue. Because of these practices, the American Civil Liberties Union dropped support for the city's camera program.

Even further, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that the department would not release body camera recordings unless ordered to do so by a criminal or civil court and would consider body camera footage evidence protected from disclosure under California's public records law. This pretty much goes exactly against the reason why the Department of Justice was funding the body camera program in the first place. This system offers very little transparency unless a judge orders it.

So when Los Angeles turned to the Department of Justice to try to get a chunk of that $20 million in grants, the ACLU said, "Wait a minute!" They sent an 11-page letter to the Department of Justice requesting the funding be denied. Via The Los Angeles Times:

"We believe that the LAPD's policy does not promote — and in fact undermines — the goals of transparency, accountability and creation of public trust that body-worn cameras should serve," senior staff attorney Peter Bibring wrote.

"Accordingly, we respectfully request that the Department of Justice deny LAPD's request for funding and instead direct federal support of body-worn cameras to agencies whose police align more closely with the objectives of the program and a better promise to build public trust," he continued.

Their complaint fell on deaf ears. Earlier this week the Department of Justice announced that the department would be getting $1 million in funds (that's five percent of the total amount being offered) to buy more body cameras.

What a terrible message that sends to law enforcement agencies. Los Angeles took a tool that was intended to increase transparency about police behavior (and better address accusations of misconduct) and did the opposite. Then they asked for money from a federal program that was created in the wake of a year of nationwide activism to demand more transparency and accountability for police misbehavior, but without any evidence the LAPD would be fulfilling its citizens' needs for more information.

And then, the Department of Justice gave them the money anyway. That's the part people need to remember. In all of this activism there has been a sense that the Department of Justice would come into cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, look at these police departments, and make them fix everything. This is what the Department of Justice thinks is fixing things.

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24 responses to “Police Discover Their Body Camera Programs Don't Have To Be Good To Snag Federal Funds

  1. …L.A.’s proposed plans would allow officers to review the body camera footage before being interviewed by investigators in incidents where police behavior was an issue.

    It was reported that the law enforcement professionals who beat Kelly Thomas to death were allowed to view security footage of their mob heroism before making statements. You know, just like any other person being investigated for criminal activity.

    1. You can’t trust those cops, farther than you can throw them.

  2. First, it’s kind of sadly precious that the ACLU thought that the DOJ had any fucks to give about transparency and public trust.

    Second, this is what “accountability” looks like. Empty promises of reform followed by even more money and license for the most evil fuckers in the system. And there is no way for the public to challenge it because as long as a flimsy veneer of action is affected, most of the people will be fooled most of the time, and the few who aren’t don’t have the access or the resources to lobby every day like the entrenched interests do.

    Expect agencies across the country to adopt the LAPD model, because they know they can get the money that way.

    1. Hugh, stop plagiarizing me before I even have a chance to type. I’ll sue you!

      1. Epi, I am sincerely sorry that you are incapable of coming up with a single original thought. Except maybe those Shelly Duvall masturbatory fantasies. I doubt you have much company there.

        1. Oh man, when she’s losing her hair in The Shining

          I’ll be in my bunk.

  3. Even further, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that the department would not release body camera recordings unless ordered to do so by a criminal or civil court and would consider body camera footage evidence protected from disclosure under California’s public records law. This pretty much goes exactly against the reason why the Department of Justice was funding the body camera program in the first place. This system offers very little transparency unless a judge orders it.

    The Seattle Times, America’s Foremost Conservative Newspaper, has been harping on this– harping on the PROBLEMS with making body camera footage public.

    You’d think that a #BlackLivesMatter type of rag would be all for it, but instead, they keep raising “privacy concerns” about police body camera footage.

    I understand their point– if Paul. has an interaction with the po-po, and that can be put up on Facebook, Paul. might have a reason to not want the public view my interaction. Especially when that girl looked at least 16 to me.

    However, I think there are ways to handle it. For instance, the party involved in the interaction should certainly have a right to get those records upon request.

    1. The Times is much more interested in fellating authority than anything else.

      Did you hear about the accident on the Aurora Bridge earlier today? It was pretty bad.

  4. Since when does anything have to be good to snag federal funds?

    1. I kind of thought ‘good’ was kind of an automatic disqualifier.

    2. Well, the campaign contributions, grafts, and kickbacks generally have to be pretty decent, anyway.

  5. Huh, Ride the Duck… was fun while it lasted.

    Enjoy the lawsuit:

    http://www.seattletimes.com/se…..ra-bridge/

    1. I see I should have read further down before asking you about this.

      1. Yeah, I heard about it only ’cause my ex wife works the ER at Swedish.

  6. Keep in mind that the feds were the ones giving out free police state toys in the first place.

  7. would consider body camera footage evidence protected from disclosure under California’s public records law.

    Only in America does a “public records law” prohibit disclosure of public records.

    1. The First amendment doesn’t apply to the states.

  8. Lemme be the first to throw out the tried and true, “Feature, not a bug” concept that has kept us entertained all these years.

  9. Florida Police Officer arrested for child porn. You can’t make this shit up!
    1) He was officer of the year (ok, it IS Florida, so makes sense)
    2) Passed polygraph test: What type of person passes a polygraph test when they’re hiding something like this! (Psycho?)

    The Fort Pierce Officer of the Year in 2011, Harding transferred to Port. St. Lucie in 2012. He’s been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the investigation, police chief John Bolduc told FOX 29.

    “If these allegations are true, this is very disturbing,” Bolduc told NBC News. “He did very well on all the different things we do in the hiring process ? psychological evaluations, polygraphs ? all that checked out fine.”

    1. Ps. They are SERIOUS!!!111!! (WithOUT pay!)

    2. What type of person passes a polygraph test when they’re hiding something like this!

      This simply speaks to the fact that polygraphs are an utterly unreliable voodoo technology. You might as well accept seances, astrology,phrenology and palm reading as valid techniques if you accept polygraphs.

      If you’re ever given the option, decline the polygraph.

      1. Of course you’d say that, you have the brainpan of a stage-coach tilter.

    3. He did very well on all the different things we do in the hiring process ? psychological evaluations, polygraphs ? all that checked out fine.

      Yet you won’t in a million years think what that might mean, will you.

    4. “He did very well on all the different things we do in the hiring process ? psychological evaluations, polygraphs ? all that checked out fine.”

      Of course he did.

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