Release of Tyre Nichols’ arrest video shows why police shouldn’t control body-cam footage
The practice of releasing body camera footage will continue to remain foremost in the interests of police especially when they continue to retain control over the footage. While body cameras will never solve the problem of police violence, it should not be up to the police to decide when and how footage is released as a legitimacy tool to leverage public support of police actions.
Police dogs pose a serious risk to schoolchildren
The public entrusts school administrators to safeguard their children. Ideally, the practice of allowing anyone—let alone susceptible children—to socialize with police K-9s in classrooms should end. Nevertheless, an investigation could lead to the development of necessary policies and safety precautions to ensure that no child in a classroom is ever bitten by a police dog.
Police control of body camera footage undermines meaningful accountability
As police services continue to adopt and roll-out body-worn cameras, it is inevitable that the public will become more aware of police actions imprinted on the footage they record. What remains unclear is how the police can be held accountable by the use of body-worn cameras when the “official” narrative is manufactured and controlled by police themselves.
Body cameras do not fix the problem of police legitimacy
As of April 2021, approximately 900 Kansas City officers have worn body cameras at a cost of around $4 million a year. The expectation that outfitting police officers with body cameras was to somehow improve or restore police legitimacy is misguided at best, especially in the context of the long and storied history of outright police lies and dishonesty.
Where’s the transparency with an inactive police body camera?
Citizens should continue to record the police and share their videos on social media. Bystander recordings of use of force, including videos as brazen as the one recorded by Mr. Korchinski Beals, bring immediate attention to police behaviour, offering transparency and accountability in situations where the public cannot expect the police will necessarily share camera footage, let alone activate their body-worn cameras.
Transparency is voided when police weaponize copyrighted music
An unsettling trend in law enforcement is occurring whereby police officers are weaponizing copyrighted music to thwart bystander recordings of police from going viral. It is not a mistake or a game but a growing police tactic. During a recent exchange with Black Lives Matter activists, an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy in California was caught on camera pulling out his phone to soundtrack the interaction with Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.”
Body-worn cameras and ending the public subsidization of police accountability
Although body-worn cameras have become widespread in law enforcement agencies across the United States, taxpayers have continued to bear the brunt of the financial costs associated with police accountability. Officers should absolutely be held accountable for bad behaviour caught on body cameras but the public should not be expected to continue to subsidize it.
Protecting police with hate speech legislation will not bring respect to law enforcement
Proper respect is earned, not given or forced. Increased police force whether through the use of violence in response to protest speech, as a result of perceived disrespectful encounters with citizens, or labeling public criticism of police actions that result in death as “hate speech” will never bring any moral authority or more respect to police. Indeed, it will surely do just the opposite.
Social media has done more for transparency and accountability than police body-worn cameras
Following the circulation of a recent video of a violent altercation with police, Montréal mayor Valérie Plante has renewed calls for police body-worn cameras. The cameras are also currently being discussed in Winnipeg. Viral videos on social media have arguably done more for police transparency and accountably than body-worn cameras. Perhaps a better idea is to encourage the public to record police encounters with citizens.
‘Never forget it’: Black History Month and police brutality
There are myriad ways in which people can honour Black History Month. Listening to the stories and narratives of Black Canadians, as expressed in poetry, art, and music is one good way. Hip-hop storytellers like Ottawa’s City Fidelia serve as a vital voice, one uniquely positioned in history with a subjective awareness of racism, while also speaking of the lived experiences of Black and brown people in Canada in the present.
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