CCPD IS USING BODY CAMERAS, BUT THEY NEED MORE
According to a report on KRIS-TV, approximately 1/3 of Corpus Christi Police Department uniformed officers are wearing body cameras. The station’s look at the matter is superficial, but it’s good to know it’s being observed. Mandatory bodycams’ time is NOW. Bodycams are THE existing technology which has the greatest potential to improve strained relationships between cops and the communities they police.
BODY CAMERAS ARE EFFECTIVE IN REDUCING MISCONDUCT BY POLICE AND PUBLIC
Bodycams have already been shown to be a powerful tool. Police and those they encounter mutually benefit. The most publicized experience so far has been a year-long experiment by the Rialto Police Department in California. As police would encounter people, they told the people the event was being recorded. Citizens won. Use of force was reduced by 50 percent.
Police won, too. Even police advocates found the experiment especially telling, but for a different reason. Complaints against police went down by a remarkable 90 percent. Less force was used by police, and unfounded complaints were thwarted before they had a chance to harm anyone’s reputation.
The lesson is simple and straightforward: people who know they are being recorded, including cops, tend to behave with more accountability. Everyone involved impliedly knows the recording may be reviewed, so they know misbehavior will be preserved. Who could’ve guess it?
THE DAYS OF “TRUST ME BECAUSE I’M A COP” ARE HISTORY
No longer will we accept “who are you going to believe, the cop or the perp” garbage. People often become perps solely by virtue of the cop making the accusation. We already know cops are as prone to lying as the general population; youtube.com has made this fact abundantly clear, as well as the experience of millions of people. Only the most ardently blind, irrational supporter of police could claim or believe cops don’t lie. To be fair, some of the people police must endure on the job are among the most dishonest among us, the least worthy of any credence. Cops must deal with such people as a matter of routine.
There is much room for improvement. Cops in Rialto who didn’t use the body cams were twice as likely to use force. Such a finding points to police behavior which must change. Accountability provided by bodycams is hard to duplicate by other means.
BODY CAMS NEED TO BE USED UNIVERSALLY BY COPS ON DUTY
Giving cops authority to turn bodycams off and on, or to control whether audio is included, gives rise to awful situations which lead one to reasonably conclude they are willfully trying to hide their misdeeds.
This is not mere conjecture; LAPD cops systematically disabled technology designed to monitor their behavior on duty, and that technology was put in place as a result of a federal judge requiring more oversight of police after many years of abusive conduct. This is no isolated incident.
Police have been resisting all accountability on many levels; police have been shown to have dubious lapses with regard to recording their most questionable and objectionable behavior, turning off cameras even while shooting or otherwise harming people. Considering the statistically rare incident of shooting people, the likelihood of accidentally or inadvertently having one’s bodycam turned off at the worst possible time is dubious and likely a coverup. The public will no longer tolerate such arrogance and disdain for our dignity as people.
THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF POLICE IS AT STAKE, AND WE WANT “GOOD COPS”
Cops are running out of time to re-establish their credibility. If cops don’t start accepting accountability for their own by rooting out their own “bad apples”, they will be indicted by an exasperated public for trying to hide and defend the worst among them.
As it is, cops appear more and more to capitulate to the truth about the worst among them only when they can’t hide the truth any longer. As it is, few among them acknowledge more than the bare existence of the rare, mythical “bad cop”. Strangely enough, they never seem to encounter any in real life. Rarely, if ever, does anyone see “good cops” expose or arrest “bad cops”.
Technology is increasingly making police misconduct an extremely difficult thing to hide. By the time hiding misconduct is nearly impossible, police credibility could be permanently tainted.
Unless cops take action to police themselves effectively, they will be seen as having been dragged into the light against their will, kicking and screaming. Cops have been obstructionists of efforts to reign in their worst, and that needs to change.
Soon, they may be viewed like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America, organizations of denial and enabling violence. Both organizations covered up criminal abuse of children. For generations, the Catholic Church denied the existence of rampant pedophilia and shuffled around the pedophiles, providing comfort and cover for the predatory priests. Similarly, cops are doing little to nothing to root out their worst offenders, denying specific claims, no matter how egregious, no matter how plainly proven.
COPS NEED TO GET RID OF THEIR WORST AND ADMIT MISCONDUCT WHEN IT HAPPENS
Instead, cops should get ahead of the curve, be proactive, and do the right thing. If one them chooses to abuse, the abuser should not be tolerated. A cop’s job is more violent and invasive than others. Electricians, teachers, and accountants don’t get to initiate violence against people in the name of government authority as part of their jobs; cops do. Cops must be held to a high standard, as a result.
Many millions of people are still eager to support police. Almost everyone personally knows a cop, and most people would probably say they like and respect the cops they know. As a public, we want to feel safe, and we want cops we don’t view as adversaries or threats to our safety or liberty. While many Americans still see cops as righteous do-gooders always trying to do the right things, it’s hard to reconcile those views with what we now routinely see on television and the internet. When cops we know don’t condemn obvious misconduct, what are we supposed to think?
Cops who abuse should be fired, arrested, and prosecuted. Only cops get to arrest, and cops have tremendously powerful unions and collective bargaining agreements protecting abusive cops’ jobs. For the sake of cops everywhere, as well as society in general, cops must police themselves and find fault where it exists. Bodycams are a key component in efforts to prove or disprove misconduct by cops.