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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the proof-is-in-the-pudding dept.

Crime 643

Several readers sent word that U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has begun speaking in favor of mandatory cameras for police across the country. "Everywhere I go people now have cameras. And police officers are now at a disadvantage, because someone can tape the last part of an encounter and not tape the first part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven't." This follows the recent controversy ove the shooting death of Michael Brown in a police incident, as well as a White House petition on the subject that rocketed to 100,000 signatures.

McCaskill continued, "I would like to see us say, 'If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to have body cams on your officers. And I think that would go a long way towards solving some of these problems, and it would be a great legacy over this tragedy that's occurred in Ferguson, regardless of what the facts say at the end as to whether or not anyone is criminally culpable."

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I like... (3, Insightful)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 4 months ago | (#47767213)

Of course, somebody will think this a bad idea...

Re:I like... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767325)

Republicans of course.

Think about it: Where is the money going to come for all these cameras?

Federal/state/local governments aren't exactly flush with cash right now so either taxes will need to be increased to purchase said cameras or something will have to be cut (and that opens up a whole other can of worms.)

Re:I like... (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | about 4 months ago | (#47767381)

A body camera is a tiny, tiny fraction of the salary of a cop, and will probably make up its cost very quickly in the bullshit that it cuts out.

Re:I like... (4, Insightful)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 4 months ago | (#47767407)

You're wrong, AC, ("of course"). Apparently you don't actually know many republicans. Of the several I know, many are LEOs and would fully support this for exactly for the reasons stated in the article. If they lump their purchase under "anti-terrorism", then funding is no problem, as that still seems to be a bottomless wallet, for both wings.

Re:I like... (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 4 months ago | (#47767495)

Everyone likes accountability when they have control over it. The cops would have control over the tapes, right? So they get to choose which parts to show and which parts to "inconveniently lose." Every other time this topic has come up on Slashdot, there's been quite a cynical kerfuffle about precisely this.

Re:I like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767651)

LEO's? Like they beleive in astrology as well and love taking center stage? Man republicans are F'd up.

Re:I like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767409)

Federal/state/local governments aren't exactly flush with cash right now

And yet they have the money to throw ridiculous amounts of military-grade hardware to local police. Can't afford a $40 camera, but can afford a $40,000 armored vehicle. Seems legit.

Re:I like... (4, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 4 months ago | (#47767483)

Think about it: Where is the money going to come for all these cameras?

Federal/state/local governments aren't exactly flush with cash right now so either taxes will need to be increased to purchase said cameras or something will have to be cut (and that opens up a whole other can of worms.)

Or the departments could just take the funding they put aside for a couple surplus MRAPs and buy these cameras instead. These cameras have the added effect of actually improving officer/civilian safety (less chance of violence on both sides if they know a camera is recording) with the only downside being the cops don't have bad-ass trucks they can ride around in while pretending they're Marines riding through downtown Fallujah.

Re:I like... (4, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 4 months ago | (#47767491)

If you get rid of the TSA, there would be tons of money available for such an endeavor.

Re:I like... (1)

spamking (967666) | about 4 months ago | (#47767493)

Why in the world would you feel any republican would think this is a bad idea?

Re:I like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767555)

1. It might conflict with their number one goal of lowering the tax rates on the rich.
2. Before it could be deleted, a video might show a black person getting abused by a white cop.

Re:I like... (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#47767515)

Where is the money going to come for all these cameras?

The cost of the cameras is insignificant compared to the cost of the lawsuits, and riots, that occur in their absence. They also cut down on paperwork, because the video itself is a record of the interaction, so the cop can spend less time writing reports and more time policing. They also save lots of money by reducing arrests, since cameras have a calming influence on both cops and the perps. People behave better when they know they are being filmed.

Federal/state/local governments aren't exactly flush with cash right now ...

Yet they can afford armored vehicles and military weapons.

Federal vs. local decision (Re:I like...) (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47767341)

Though I don't think, this particular one is a bad idea, I am worried about the yet another illustration of how the Federal government's control reaches into the crooks and nannies it was never supposed to reach [wikipedia.org] :

If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to fill in the blank

By ratcheting up the Federal taxes, the Federal government has come into position to dictate the terms to local governments, who can neither print money nor raise their taxes to finance themselves without bankrupting local economies. But don't you worry — it is not dictatorship, you can always refuse the federal monies, can you not?

Re:Federal vs. local decision (Re:I like...) (-1, Flamebait)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 4 months ago | (#47767573)

What the fuck are you talking about.

libertarians...
such trash. much moron.

Re:Federal vs. local decision (Re:I like...) (4, Informative)

hsmith (818216) | about 4 months ago | (#47767631)

Such lack of history.

Look into why the drinking age was raised to 21 nation wide: Failure to comply cut highway funding. It was blackmail.

So, stick the shitty memes elsewhere.

Re:Federal vs. local decision (Re:I like...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767599)

Though I don't think, this particular one is a bad idea, I am worried about the yet another illustration of how the Federal government's control reaches into the crooks and nannies it was never supposed to reach [wikipedia.org] :

"...crooks and nannies..."? I don't know if that was intentional or not, but that was a hilarious juxtaposition of the actual saying...

Re:I like... (1)

Adriax (746043) | about 4 months ago | (#47767343)

Like many officers?
Police cruisers already have cameras, and we're already seen cases where the camera is disabled by the officer because they don't think bureaucrats with no experience have the right to judge them. And that's not getting into the officers who disable them or "lose" the footage after the fact to cover up their own crimes.

I'm all for these body cams, but don't expect it to be received with open arms or to change behavior overnight.
I suspect if this passes there is going to be a spike in google searches for "how to secretly disable camera and make it looks like equipment failure".

Re:I like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767441)

"Losing" the footage should be criminalized, with harsh-bordering-on-draconian penalties.

People like you... (3, Informative)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 4 months ago | (#47767489)

Well, I guess that since a tiny slice of the cops MIGHT disable their cameras, we shouldn't do it at all. We probably shouldn't do anything at all, ever. We should probably just make murder legal and stop prosecuting it, since some people still murder...

I do not understand how people with this outlook can get anything done in life.

Cameras are good. They keep everyone, cops and public, polite. If the camera doesn't work, that comes out in the courtroom. That's what the courtroom is for.

Re:I like... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#47767583)

Police cruisers already have cameras

The police cars in Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown was killed, have no cameras. No dashcam. No interior cam. No cam on the officer. Nothing.

Re:I like... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767397)

Doing stuff to prevent an irrational, hate-filled and violent underclass from erupting when one of theirs gets himself shot doesn't excite me much. Should make for lots of great Liveleak videos, however. More opportunities to laugh at thug life trash getting handled as they deserve.

Re:I like... (4, Insightful)

MondoGordo (2277808) | about 4 months ago | (#47767481)

it's only a bad idea if the police have control over the recordings ... then you would see incriminating footage getting lost or deleted (and blamed on "equipment failure" ) & only exculpatory (for the police) footage being preserved. I'm all for it (despite the expansion of the panopticon) if the cameras are always on (including an officer recall if the feed fails), the feed is streamed to a remote location, the record is administered by a public advocacy agency and available for public review, and all interactions of a routine nature are deleted after a fixed period of time.

Re: I like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767667)

Right, like how Democrats in the OR conveniently erased ("lost") emails and didn't tell the court about it. But the Democrats would never lie.

Will the cameras work? (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47767215)

Or will we one day hear, that, unfortunately, the cameras worn by the officers involved had "malfunctioned" at the most inopportune moment?

(Pay no attention to the remains of chewing gum around the lenses.)

Re:Will the cameras work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767243)

Requirements for certification of the cameras should be that they have been tested to retain functionality after falling down the stairs, slipping in the shower or walking into a door.

Re:Will the cameras work? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767321)

Add more, Body cam, gun cam, taser cam and pepper spray cam. If the officer is going to escalate force it must be documented. "Failure" of multiple filming devices at the same time is grounds for immediate arrest of the officer.

Re:Will the cameras work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767589)

And proof that every police station with an APC and military-quality weaponry actually requires them. If not, they should be taken away from them.

Re:Will the cameras work? (3, Insightful)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about 4 months ago | (#47767337)

Or will we one day hear, that, unfortunately, the cameras worn by the officers involved had "malfunctioned" at the most inopportune moment?

(Pay no attention to the remains of chewing gum around the lenses.)

Indeed, but then it will immediately put suspicion on the police officer, whereas at the moment there is nothing other than their sayso about what happened. Since police testimony is often implicitly trusted by magistrates and juries, I would much rather there be a 'but what happened to your camera?' defence than not at all.

Re:Will the cameras work? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#47767473)

But he is innocent until proven guilty. So while his actions may be under suspicion, he isn't guilty of his misconduct due to lack of evidence.

Re:Will the cameras work? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 4 months ago | (#47767533)

but then it will immediately put suspicion on the police officer

It doesn't work that way today.

There was an example of where a woman claimed she was raped by a police officer. The condom vanished from the evidence lock-up before trial. But the absence of evidence does not good for the woman. Even if it put suspicion on the police officer, that suspicion is not enough to prove rape.

Similarly, there are cases where police car-mounted cameras fail. I don't think those usually work-out well for the defendant who claimed he was attacked just as the camera cut out.

Re:Will the cameras work? (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 4 months ago | (#47767425)

We already hear that almost daily anyway.

Re:Will the cameras work? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767551)

In countries where body cameras have been implemented, not only they work but also there is a noticable decrease in agressivity of both citizens and officers.

Also, I fail to understand why your argument is relevant. If a policeman behaves violently, the citizen will ask for the footage, and if it becomes clear that the policeman tampered with the device he will be punished. Even if one more clever manages to do bad things and not be caught (which already happens everyday), why should that invalidate a concept that will be very useful in the vast majority of the cases?

Re:Will the cameras work? (1)

lazarusdishwasher (968525) | about 4 months ago | (#47767605)

Why not add data retention and verification to the funding requirements, to ensure requested footage will be available. An automated system could also scan the footage for blackouts and flag it for review, if the stream is scanned live you can recall officers to get a replacement camera mid shift.

Re:Will the cameras work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767629)

That doesn't matter at the moment.

The first step is slapping the fucking things on every police officer.

Re:Will the cameras work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767663)

i have a possible solution.
Cops that regularly have malfunctioning cameras, should be required to wear two so one acts as a backup. if they continue to have problems then they are assigned a partner that doesn't have a history of such issues. Presumably then you would have someone that can be trusted watching the corrupt cop.

One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767223)

"If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to have body cams on your officers that they can't turn off."

Fixed that for me.

Re:One correction (2)

gcnaddict (841664) | about 4 months ago | (#47767235)

I mean, that or just make it such that the case is dismissed if the device fails and no other hard evidence exists.

Re:One correction (5, Insightful)

ixl (811473) | about 4 months ago | (#47767275)

Make evidence retrieved without camera coverage inadmissible, citations issued without camera coverage inadmissible, and so on.

Re:One correction (1)

apraetor (248989) | about 4 months ago | (#47767419)

And any use of force without a camera should be subject to civilian laws (i.e. no qualified immunity), which impose a MUCH stricter standard on what constitutes "self-defense". As other areas of government have been forced into openness and transparency we somehow let police departments escape from the most vital part -- scrutiny of the actual "policing", audit trails of each interaction with civilians.

Re:One correction (1, Troll)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47767263)

More federal intrusion into state matters? I'm in favor of the idea but Washington should f*** right off. They are welcome to introduce it for federal law enforcement, of course.

Re:One correction (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#47767277)

and states are completely free to fund their own law enforcement needs without asking the fed for money

Re:One correction (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47767299)

Fine. But the fed shouldn't be taking that money from states' residents in the first place. It's subversion of the constitution by the backdoor and should be stopped.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Re:One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767413)

It's subversion of the constitution by the backdoor and should be stopped.

Fine. How do you recommend stopping summary execution of suspects by law enforcement, which is also a subversion of the constitution?

Re:One correction (3, Informative)

apraetor (248989) | about 4 months ago | (#47767449)

It is not a subversion of the Constitution, since the 16th Amendment explicitly authorizes it.

Re:One correction (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#47767517)

It's subversion of the constitution by the backdoor

And hence the expression "getting bent over..."

Re:One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767595)

Fine. But the fed shouldn't be taking that money from states' residents in the first place.

Umm, that's wrong. The Articles of Confederation didn't provide a means for direct federal tax and the fed went bankrupt. The constitution provides congressional authority to tax, and the 16th Amendment explicitly expanded it.

Re:One correction (2)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 4 months ago | (#47767617)

Fine. But the fed shouldn't be taking that money from states' residents in the first place. It's subversion of the constitution by the backdoor and should be stopped.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Sixteenth Amendment: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

So, the taxes are EXPLICITLY a power delegated to the United States.

Re:One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767331)

Precisely. The federal government isn't intruding into state matters here. They're saying basically, you want our money, you play by our rules. States are welcome to opt out. But they won't because they're greedy SOBs too and want their cake (read: more money) and to eat it too (that is: without having to raise taxes).

Re:One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767369)

But federal money comes from taxing the citizens of states.

Re:One correction (0)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 4 months ago | (#47767523)

Federal money comes from taxing the citizens of the Country, who happen to live in states. Go Away.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get in my car and drive on the Interstate Highway, which I benefit from greatly.

Re:One correction (1)

bhspencer (2523290) | about 4 months ago | (#47767421)

That horse has left the barn. The states are federated, the USA might as well be a single state. Why do we even bother thinking of states as individual legal entities any more.

Re:One correction (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#47767537)

because they are individual, for a list of things so long the text file would take megabytes.

Re:One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767273)

extension #2: if the officer cannot produce the footage immediately, he is guilty by default.

follows from this: if you damage the officers camera, he has to run away.

Vajk

Re:One correction (1)

ixl (811473) | about 4 months ago | (#47767357)

If the camera is damaged but the footage survives, and the last frame shows you wrecking the camera, then you've got some explaining to do. To a judge.

Re:One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767447)

nope! because the cop cannot catch me. he cannot act if the camera is off.

One correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767627)

"If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to have body cams on your officers that they can't turn off."

this++. So much this.

The death of leniency (5, Interesting)

jerpyro (926071) | about 4 months ago | (#47767225)

The problem with this is that if all cops feel like they're being audited all of the time, they're less likely to let you off the hook for a minor violation. Then since they have to charge you with something, and there's supporting evidence, you're not going to get a plea or reduction from a mandatory sentence in court.

I know that doesn't sound like a big deal but cops let thousands of people off per day on minor things where people just need a warning.

Re:The death of leniency (4, Insightful)

TheRealSteveDallas (2505582) | about 4 months ago | (#47767279)

They are also less likely to charge you with a bullshit charge they "discovered" having stopped you on sketchy grounds in the first place.

Re:The death of leniency (5, Insightful)

ixl (811473) | about 4 months ago | (#47767315)

The US has a strong tradition of prosecutorial discretion. DAs decline to charge people all the time, in court, with a written record. Cameras wouldn't necessarily require the death of leniency, although I see your point that they might encourage it if cops decide to be stricter that as a form of protest. But who knows, that just might encourage people to repeal stupid laws *cough*non-violent possession*cough*.

Re:The death of leniency (1)

BellyJelly (3772777) | about 4 months ago | (#47767317)

The reputation of the police is so low now that they need to be audited, and this is lesser of the two evils. If you have broken the law and think you deserve leniency, then ask the judge when (s)he is about to sentence you (or during the plea bargaining process, if you are arrested in the US).

Re:The death of leniency (3, Insightful)

StevenMaurer (115071) | about 4 months ago | (#47767329)

Police are given wide discretion by the courts. There is no reason to believe that anyone will be auditing them for failure to write up a citation.

This is more to prevent them from beating the ever-loving-crap out of a black guy for driving in the wrong neighborhood. *Ahem* Sorry: "resisting arrest".

Re:The death of leniency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767335)

If that becomes a problem, we can find a way of dealing with it then.

That is no argument for preventing the rollout of a camera on every cop.

Re:The death of leniency (1)

OutLawSuit (1107987) | about 4 months ago | (#47767347)

How is this any different than dash cams on police cars? Police regularly give out warnings while being filmed without any repercussions.

Re:The death of leniency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767415)

If police discretion is allowed, then the law should spell out that it permits police discretion. Otherwise, there should be no police discretion.

Re:The death of leniency (5, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47767433)

I know that doesn't sound like a big deal but cops let thousands of people off per day on minor things where people just need a warning.

That may, actually, be a good thing — enforcing police objectivity by ending the selective enforcement [wikipedia.org] (sometimes affectionately referred to as "Prosecutorial Discretion" [dailykos.com] ).

Then, if a silly law affects too many people — including judges, mayors, and good-looking women, who would've all gotten off with a warning before — the law may get amended...

Re:The death of leniency (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 4 months ago | (#47767437)

I have a problem with you thinking this is a problem. What you are essentially saying is that making police accountable for bad deeds has a "dark side" of actual criminals actually being prosecuted for actual crimes. Ummm... That's a huge improvement to framed/scam crimes, which police charge people with EVERY day.

Re:The death of leniency (2)

jerpyro (926071) | about 4 months ago | (#47767655)

That wasn't really my intent -- what I'm saying is that always having the cops on cam will take away their 'human' side and they'll just be encouraged more towards robot enforcers. I don't think it'll help much with planted evidence and framing -- those types of things will be done with some sort of coincidental leaving the camera in the car or disabling it or even having someone else commit the plant. There's an economy for those sorts of activities, and there will always be a price that someone is willing to pay.

Re:The death of leniency (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#47767455)

Another consequences might include the reluctance of some citizens to talk to police about certain things or people, or just have a simple friendly conversation. Everyone will feel the need to apply the "lawyer filter" to everything they say. That won't help trust one bit.

Re:The death of leniency (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 4 months ago | (#47767459)

This may sound odd, but that's actually a good thing. In short: If laws are enforced consistently, then bad laws are eventually removed. If laws are enforced selectively, they are used to punish those who don't have the political power to change them.

Let me clarify: When laws are selectively enforced, it introduces the problem that the person doing the selection can "bias" that law. They can apply it to uncooperative people, or ugly people, or certain races, etc. So, for example, everyone speeds. But not everyone is pulled-over for speeding in a completely random distribution. Instead, the law targets the person in the sporty red car, or the one who looks like they might smoke weed, or the minority race. But if *every single person* got pulled-over for speeding every day, we would probably change the law!

Criminal prosecutors cause this kind of problem a lot because they can selectively enforce laws. Wealthy people or businesses are often given a fine, while while an average individual will be given jail time. Or rather than going after everyone using insider information, they pick the high profile TV celebrity. The NSA and the phone companies have no consequence to violating wiretapping laws, but individuals are often frightened to record a phone conversation with tech support.

Re:The death of leniency (2)

machineghost (622031) | about 4 months ago | (#47767613)

But if *every single person* got pulled-over for speeding every day, we would probably change the law!

Amen!

Re:The death of leniency (4, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#47767467)

The problem with this is that if all cops feel like they're being audited all of the time, they're less likely to let you off the hook for a minor violation. Then since they have to charge you with something, and there's supporting evidence, you're not going to get a plea or reduction from a mandatory sentence in court.

I know that doesn't sound like a big deal but cops let thousands of people off per day on minor things where people just need a warning.

Frankly, I'm a little less concerned with the "problem" of cops letting off people who do commit minor infractions, than the problem of cops falsifying evidence or destroying exculpatory evidence, beating or torturing suspects, and lying on police reports in order to arrest people who haven't committed any crime. You getting out of a speeding ticket for going 60 in a 55 is less important than Joe Innocent getting arrested for walking in the wrong part of town while black, having a gun with defaced serial numbers planted on him, and suddenly facing 10 year felony charge with an "option" to plead guilty and only get a year (and a felony record).

Re:The death of leniency (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | about 4 months ago | (#47767511)

The problem with this is that if all cops feel like they're being audited all of the time, they're less likely to let you off the hook for a minor violation. Then since they have to charge you with something, and there's supporting evidence, you're not going to get a plea or reduction from a mandatory sentence in court.

I know that doesn't sound like a big deal but cops let thousands of people off per day on minor things where people just need a warning.

Not remotely a foregone conclusion. It comes down to what the rules of the cameras actually are. If the footage goes to third parties and can only be reviewed in the case of an incident, "leniency" wouldn't be an "incident."

Cops are already "audited all the time" by virtue of the fact that they radio in when they stop the car and get out with "I'm stopping the car to investigate X." If he doesn't show up with a prisoner, there is already an "audit point." The camera won't require the cop to "invent" a charge, but it would police him if he kills you in the course of an encounter because it would mean there was a "version of events" supplied by someone other than your murderer.

Re:The death of leniency (2)

apraetor (248989) | about 4 months ago | (#47767547)

Cops have the authority and discretion to issue verbal or written warnings instead of citations for moving violations, so video recording won't change that. For the rest, it would be quite expensive to have auditors watch over all the footage from each officer's shift; screening would either be random, or the video records could be kept unwatched unless a complaint or other legal matter requires the tape to be reviewed. Your arguments sound more like excuses not to do it than legitimate reasons. It might make getting away with minor crimes more difficult, but crime has a negative impact on society, whereas video documentation of policing has social value.

Re:The death of leniency (4, Interesting)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 4 months ago | (#47767575)

The problem with this is that if all cops feel like they're being audited all of the time, they're less likely to let you off the hook for a minor violation

This would be a great thing.

I say that not because I have a stick up my ass, but because I recognize that selective enforcement is a huge problem in this society. The problem isn't that some people get away with some offenses. The problem is that it creates a society that is complacent with criminalization or prohibition of huge ranges of activities based on the understanding that cops will be reasonable people and will exercise good judgement to pursue only "the right" infractions. This is terrible for two reasons, primarily. The first reason why selective enforcement is terrible is because it allows for an absurd legal code. Harvey Silverglate's book "Three Felonies a Day" outlines how our current system ensures that virtually everyone is guilty of something. Selective enforcement is the only reason that 99% of our population is able to be free from prison at any given point in time. The elimination of selective enforcement would force a long-overdue overhaul of our legal code in order to avoid a 100% incarceration rate.

The second reason why selective enforcement is terrible is because it affords law enforcement officials entirely too much power, power which is frequently abused. The problem is that cops are the ones that decide who gets away with what. Not only does that create a huge conflict of interest [wikipedia.org] which prevents police from being able to police each other, but it also opens up other avenues of favoritism, encourages bribery, and overall corrupts our system of justice.

If cops couldn't let thousands of people off per day on minor things, those minor things would cease to be illegal and our legal code would finally have some semblance of sanity.

our poor cops (0)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#47767247)

in Chicago cops beat people for jollies and rape women detained for "suspected of being a prostitute". They won't be too keen on use of body cameras to "record entire incidents" (except for their own private porn/sadism collection that is)

Every place that has implemented it has done great (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767253)

Fewer complaints against the cops, complaints get resolved quickly and fairly, fewer cases of cops using violence, they caught one copkiller because the cop he killed had filmed his face.

It's been good for just about everyone, yet some cops keep resisting. I guess because they no longer get their 3 months paid vacation while complaints get kicked around by the unionistas before being summarily dismissed, replacing that with a day off while the tape is reviewed is a hard sell.

Precedent, anyone? (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 4 months ago | (#47767285)

They already have dash cams that are used in evidence.

I am uncomfortable about this idea, though. Think face recognition. Cops see a lot of iffy people daily. Also, If not handled right, it could awaken the probable cause issue.

Re:Precedent, anyone? (3, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 4 months ago | (#47767445)

Cops can already wear a camera and can already run facial recognition. You seem to be confusing the absence of this law as being equivalent to a prohibition of activities you do not like. It is not, and your logic is fallacious.

Re:Precedent, anyone? (1)

apraetor (248989) | about 4 months ago | (#47767669)

The positive aspect would be that cops, assuming their cameras stream to a computer doing facial recognition in real-time, could be alerted when they walk past someone with outstanding warrants. Cops in cities already make an effort to watch out for the most-wanted individuals -- if there is a warrant for your arrest you don't have a right to evade arrest, it just happens that cops are human and can't remember every mug shot they've been shown in briefings. This wouldn't be much different than hiring cops with eidetic memory, so I don't think you can argue it'd be a reduction of any rights.

One rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767301)

Lost footage requires a mandatory prison term for the officer(s) involved, the supervisor in charge of data management, and any persons involved specifically in losing the data.

Re:One rule (1)

schwit1 (797399) | about 4 months ago | (#47767593)

I agree, but let's start with the IRS on this one. The feds have had data retention rules in place for many years but if the DA refuses to prosecute the guilty it's a toothless rule.

The surveillance state (3, Interesting)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 4 months ago | (#47767305)

For once, a form of government surveillance I can support!

Re:The surveillance state (2)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 4 months ago | (#47767569)

Are we sure about this? In the end, cops are individual people, and they're interacting one-on-one on the ground with people in their own community, most hopefully for the better, some for the worse. This looks like a step towards involuntary ubiquitous surveillance for the individual, civilian cop or regular civilian, while visibility into decisions and actions of larger organizations, those that affect large groups at once, is still hazy or completely unavailable:

  • basic text of US legislation before voting
  • lobbyist discussions with legislators
  • international agreements like the trans-pacific partnership [eff.org]
  • centralized government surveillance via NSA

Works the other way too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767319)

The police can tape the first part of an encounter and not tape the last part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has been reacting in a proper way when they have not!

Traffic stops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767327)

If all police are forced to record every interaction, you can kiss the idea of a cop letting you off with a warning when pulled over for a traffic infraction out the window.

One step further (4, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 4 months ago | (#47767339)

It's a good idea, don't get me wrong. It's about time we used this ubiquitous cheap technology in an obviously beneficial way. It's a good move, and one I support.

But either after this comes about, or as part of the deal, the content of that camera needs to be stored offsite and specifically out of the reach of the police officer. Otherwise we're going to see a lot of data simply go missing at convenient times. To be frank, we can't trust police departments to hold onto evidence that could incriminate themselves.

And any evidence that an officer tampered with their camera in an effort to suppress incriminating evidence should be dealt with exactly as if they had destroyed evidence. Because that's what it is.

Fascist scumbag tool. (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 4 months ago | (#47767379)

...it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven't.

...when they might not have. (FTFY, Claire... you Fascist P.o.S.).

Or we could simply revert to original best practce (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767391)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_Principles

Rules for data retention\who pays for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767423)

I work for a local municipality. Currently we use dash cams and there are hundreds of traffic cams etc. The problem is with data retention rules and the cost. Video takes a crap ton of space if it's going to be compressed at a rate that makes it usable for law enforcement purposes. So the cost of storage and retention will need to be figured out. I'm not against cops wearing body cams. I think it will in fact be good for law enforcement and the public. But it shouldn't be federally mandated. And if it is it should be federally paid for.

Imagine my surprise (3, Insightful)

Old-Claimjumper (463905) | about 4 months ago | (#47767429)

Albuquerque has had problems recently with police shooting a homeless man and their lapel cameras show something that appears to be a real unjustified use of force.

Now that there is loads of bad press from the released videos, the last couple of "incidents" have been plagued with ummm... Camera Malfunctions! That's it. The cameras just malfunctioned and didn't work. We just don't understand it. Sorry, but we don't have any video of that last shooting...

A really good idea, but the devil is in the details.

Donuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767461)

Think of how much coffee & donut footage could be amassed! Or would these be turn-off-able?

All public servants should have to wear cameras! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767505)

Including Senators when discussing non-classified public information.

Need new cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767529)

A friend and I were talking about this the other day and came up with some ideas we think would solve many of the problems with police body cameras being used currently by some cities. These cities who use the current cameras have seen drops in complaints against their officers drop by as much as 88% following mandating their use.

First, the cameras should not only store video, but they should be able to stream that video, or at least still shots to an offsite location for storage.
The cameras should not have an "off" switch. If they are turned off, the officer should be suspended immediately, or at least have an investigation opened as to why the officer's camera was shut off.
A proximity sensor should be placed on the front of the device so that it can be noted when an officer covers up their camera.
A speaker should alert whenever the camera is turned off or covered up. This not only serves to "tattle" on an officer who covers his camera, but can be used to alert citizens nearby in the case of an emergency.
A GPS tracker should be placed in the tracker and any time an officer's camera is turned off or covered up, backup is immediately called to his location.

In light of recent reports of Police forces being given items such as bayonets (as a former infantry solder, I know the purpose of the bayonet is to "kill, kill, kill with the cold blue steel".), M84 belt-fed machine gun charging handles (why own one if you don't have the actual weapon) , baclavas (face masks), and AH-64 attack heilocopters, I think these body worn cameras should be mandated. Sure, we'll let them keep their automatic weapons and body armor, but if they want them, they should have to take these devices as well.

This is already happening in parts of England (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 4 months ago | (#47767545)

Grampian Police [bbc.co.uk] started this a year ago and the police in London [bbc.co.uk] in May.

Police good, people bad (3, Insightful)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about 4 months ago | (#47767597)

"And police officers are now at a disadvantage, because someone can tape the last part of an encounter and not tape the first part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven't."

Or maybe they have, because they have the legal authority to use force and the citizenry they are sworn to protect and serve do not.

I find it a very disturbing trend that "ordinary citizens" are now viewed as dangerous and "the enemy" from which the noble police (and other official institutions) must be protected. When I grew up, the general tone was that of Blackstone's Formulation ("It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"). Now it seems to be "It's better that ten innocent persons suffer than that one guilty person escape".

Exonerate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767609)

Just so you know, Darren Wilson is going to be exonerated. He shot Brown at arms length (which is how he and his fractured skull managed to land six shots to the front) while fighting for his life, the contradictory lies of irrational and hate-filled "witnesses" notwithstanding.

When that day comes it is my sincere hope that Ferguson — and any other ghetto hellholes that want to join in — erupt in an orgy of violence that goes on for weeks or months. It is high time for this reckoning.

So arm up, fuckers. It's coming.

Will the video be available though? (1)

Rizzen (1059004) | about 4 months ago | (#47767625)

My biggest concern is that it seems to presently be somewhat difficult to get the cops to ever release footage they do shoot from their cars. As long as these videos are made part of public record and freely available for anyone to view then I can see this being a major step in several ways.

For the cops that oppose (2)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 4 months ago | (#47767635)

Just like everything else in this country, a few bad apples ruin it for the rest of us.

My dad is a retired cop, very honest guy (though maybe I'm a bit biased). Most of the guys on the force were genuine good guys, of course there was 1 or 2 jackass's that would do stupid shit.

If a chest cam is going to eliminate the contradictions between the cop and the suspect, so be it. A few thousand people died 13 years ago in a terrorist attack and now the rest of us who want to fly on a commercial aircraft are treated as potential terrorists.

Can we stop using the word 'TAPE' (2)

schwit1 (797399) | about 4 months ago | (#47767659)

It's 2014 and nobody uses tape to record. Recorded data should be sent to a remote data store that the defendants, PD and DA have read only access to.

Not good enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47767673)

Tampering with a camera by an officer should be a felony. Further, if a camera has been tampered with, the civilian's version of events should be the one taken as fact.

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