Saturday, April 17, 2010

Welcome to the Panopticon

Video cameras are everywhere. And the capture everything, including cops out of control. The Associated Press: Cops getting caught on camera increases scrutiny

A review of a several incidents, some new, some old, and the debt the public owes to video cameras.
CHICAGO — Minutes after a suburban Chicago police officer was charged with striking a motorist with his baton, prosecutors handed out copies of a video showing the beating — taken by a dashboard camera on the officer's own squad car.

In California, after a transit cop and an unruly train passenger slammed against a wall during a struggle and shattered a station window last fall, video from a bystander's cell phone was all over the Internet before the window was fixed.
Cops lament the fact that some videos only show a small part of an incident. There is of course a way to fix this: record absolutely everything a cop does and says while on the job. They don't want that either, of course. But if you recorded everything, there would be no room for "creative editing."
Some say cameras are exposing behavior that police have gotten away with for years. But others contend the videos, which often show a snippet of an incident, turn officers into villains simply for doing their jobs, making them targets of lawsuits and discipline from bosses buckling to public pressure.
Anthony Abbate, the Chicago cop whose beating of a small, female bartender was recorded, was only charged with misdemeanors before the tape played everywhere. (See the video at CBS-2 Chicago)

Now they do list one incident where the video recording of the end of the incident probably didn't do the whole encounter justice (maybe), but then I go back to the idea of recording everything. There would be no doubt what happened, no claiming, "but if you only saw the 10 minutes before that..."

Expect cops to resist, since they like operating in the dark.


Carteach0 said...

NOBODY sane likes to have their every movement and word recorded and second guessed.

I think 'likes' is the important word there. Police are people too, but they are people who are given exceptional authority over other citizens. As such, they have a duty to behave in an exceptionally professional manner. Most do. Some don't. Those who don't can destroy lives and usually get away with it. That is changing.

Zendo Deb said...

I don't like going through metal detectors at airports.

I don't like random sobriety stops along the highways at New Years.

Everyone has to deal with stuff we don't like. Cops are given a lot of authority. I would just like to see some accountability.

I know some good cops, and I have run into my share of gay-hating, bigots in uniform. I have seen cops show up at the scene of a gay-bashing and make the situation worse. I have seen them drive by the site of a 911 call because they couldn't be bothered to stop at a gay-bashing, and I have seen them arrest the guy bleeding on the sidewalk.

Are most cops good? My experience says the good cops are slightly above 50 percent. Maybe my experience isn't yours. But I would dearly love to know what they saw and what they said, and have them justify it to the Monday-morning quarterbacks, because I haven't seen them have to justify too much.