Body worn camera
(Article updated 5/24/18)
I hated the idea at first.
Putting a small camera, a body worn camera, on my uniform that would record every encounter, good or bad, that I have with a citizen?
I had a similar reaction when they first put video recording equipment in our interview rooms.
If you have ever been the bad cop detective in an interview, you know what I’m talking about.
Sometimes I would take bad cop to a whole new level. Nothing illegal or criminal, just an elevated anger and annoyance at the suspect for hiding the truth or mocking us during the interview.
It’s the ugly side of police work that suburbanites or left leaning liberals don’t understand.
Sometimes the only tact that gets through to the worst of the worst is the overbearing, demonstrative approach.
To the outsider looking in, this interview style can appear quite brutish. This tactic is not to be confused with the tried and true “you get more flies with honey” method.
The thought of this interview technique being recorded and shown in court or to a jury made us old school detectives nervous. We knew that we weren’t doing anything wrong but how would it be perceived?
It didn’t take long for us to know that we were worried about nothing.
The same can be said for ours and most other police agencies across the country. As with video taped interviews, and now body worn cameras, officers forget that they are being recorded.
Apparently, so do the citizens.
The whole world in the palm of your hand
Body worn cameras were in response to an ever-increasing mistrust that the public had against the police. It didn’t matter that this mistrust was built on a false narrative fueled by the media.
Because of this growing animosity, the cell phone became the conduit for the anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country.
Cell phones have changed the world like no other piece of technology.
They have essentially provided humans with almost the entire history of the world’s knowledge in the palm of their hand.
They have also given man the ability to record mans inhumanity to man via the small video recorder attached to it. We have all seen the 20 second fight videos show up on our news feed.
This and other wretched acts depicted on video showed that we are not so far removed from the animals we share this planet with.
Some of these videos, at first viewing, appeared to show cops acting poorly or using excessive force. These videos were usually shown as mere snippets of the entire incident.
After the video had gone viral, someone would produce the entire, unedited video. This raw, unfiltered video would show the event in its entirety which would dramatically alter the perception and context of the encounter.
Both police executives and citizen support groups alike demanded that officers begin to equip themselves with body worn cameras.
Each side had vastly different motives for demanding body worn cameras on officers.
An unbiased witness
Initially, officers wearing the body worn cameras would sound and act robotic when using the new equipment.
“Hello, I am Officer Smith, how may I serve you today”…
Officers would go above and beyond what would be considered professional and delightful contact with regular citizens to include bad guys when first wearing body worn cameras.
That lasted for about 5 minutes.
The officers would soon become relaxed again doing their job. The body worn camera became just another piece of equipment they would have to wear as part of the job.
What started out as just another big hassle for officers to keep up with soon became a blessing.
Officers are routinely complained on by citizens who think they have been unfairly treated or disrespected. Prior to body worn cameras, it was the officers word against the citizen and vice versa.
People would make the most outlandish claims and swear to being mistreated and in some cases their civil rights violated.
Now, the body worn camera worn by the officer, would be an unbiased third party ready to call foul on the officer or bullshit on the citizen.
Civil rights groups like the ACLU and Black Lives Matter were betting that the monster would finally be revealed for all to see.
Take a wild guess which side lost this bet.
Almost two years after the implementation of body worn cameras, results are coming in that have some shaking their heads.
The police haters thought that the body worn cameras would prove once and for all that cops were malevolent abusers who use their power to keep the weakest among us down.
The study showed this to be false.
The left also believed that assaults on officers would be greatly diminished because of body worn cameras.
Assaults on officers have remained the same.
And the biggest lie and most epic fail in the crusade to tarnish the profession of policing came out this week.
Civil rights advocacy groups have come out and said that Body Worn Cameras violate the constitutional rights of minorities and people of color.
This is NOT satire
As unbelievable as it may sound, they are advocating for officers not to view their body worn camera footage prior to writing their reports. They believe that this practice denigrates the integrity and transparency of what the initial intent of body worn cameras could provide.
I cannot even form the brain power or the words to justify a response.
If police abuse of power were so rampant, so out of control, the evening news and your Facebook feed would be inundated with them.
Shockingly enough, this has not occurred.
What body worn cameras have shown is what we, the cops and detectives who work the streets, already knew.
It showed that 99.99999 percent of police officers conduct themselves everyday with courtesy and professionalism. It has also shown, which I can most certainly attest, the unfounded and baseless claims that many of our fine citizens have levied against law enforcement.
“Ma’am (or sir), before you make your decision to file a formal complaint against my officer, know that the entire encounter was recorded by the officers body worn camera,” I would advise. After a short pause, I would follow with “and I have viewed the entire video”.
Almost without fail, the next thing I would hear was either a phone click or the person declaring they no longer wished to make a complaint.
I guess the old saying is true after all.
A picture really is worth a thousand
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