The events in Ferguson, Missouri this past week have demonstrated to me that it’s time for us to require police to wear cameras. There’s a fair bit of evidence, from places like Oakland for example, that when police wear cameras, fewer examples of police misconduct occur; and that when efforts are made to protect police from being filmed, that police error rises. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that the technology barriers that might prevent US as citizens from observing and recording misconduct — by police or anyone else! — are falling to new software and hardware designs that some of our favorite corporations are going to make lots of money on…
Here’s a place where we, as citizens, need to push the laws to get out in front of the technology. For me, the key components of such legislation are as follows:
- Cameras on the police
- A police officer is IMMEDIATELY open to liability when he or she turns off his camera during the line of duty.
- Any police officer’s camera is searchable by badge #, and becomes part of the public record, i.e., not sealed except by judge’s order.
- Communities with a history of police misconduct — such as Ferguson, MO, for example — are subject to a 35-year period of receivership, or until their police force matches the approximate demographics of the community they serve.
Will we get all of those things? I doubt it. But should we push for it? Yes, I think so.