Saturday, July 25, 2009

The best possible outcome of the Gates fiasco

Several mobile phonesWe shouldn't have to depend on the luck of having a kid with a cellphone around to catch police misconduct (or to document that there was no misconduct); it's time for all law enforcement to be monitored with "cop cams" that capture all their interactions with citizens. Image via Wikipedia

One simple suggestion, a generalization of the requirement that all police interrogations be videotaped that State Sen. Barack Obama managed to write into the Illinois statute books: build a cell-phone-type movie camera with sound into police headgear, and require that it be turned on at the beginning of every interaction with a civilian. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. And in the cases where it's the civilian who acts aggressively, the videotape will help defend the cop against a false accusation of misconduct.
I've been making this same argument for years: we should no longer accept the idea that we can't supervise police conduct in the field -- after all, the police have long since decided to turn America into the surveillance state where the conduct of perfectly innocent people is scrutinized in detail with hundreds of thousands of recording devices and cameras, to say nothing of telephonic/internet spying.

Now is the time to say that the conduct of all law enforcement agents -- anyone having the power to detain and arrest -- must be monitored when they interact with the rest of us, so that we the people can determine for ourselves whether our agents, who obtain their power from us, are using it properly.

As police and prosecutors so often say to us, you won't mind if you have nothing to hide.

Salem should implement this quickly. After all, in these tight budget times, we can't afford to have to pay big-money police abuse settlements.
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Rob said...

I disagree completely. It is not the police that are the problem. They are the ones watching your house while you sleep or vacation. Do they get angry and dissolutioned? Yes they do because they have to deal with all those unpleasant people we don't want to see in our neighborhoods. They should not have to take verbal abuse from anyone, including college professors.

Salem is fortunate to have one of the best police departments in the country. If you don't agree with me sign up for a police ride-a-long to see what their world looks like.

Walker said...

The SPD can provide a "Ride Along" for everyone by using cameras to record all their interactions with people, and then we can all see what they experience.