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.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."
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.
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.