Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Police groups want to bar the public from seeing controversial body-camera footage — and lawmakers are obliging them

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Interesting in the light of the post earlier today about a hopelessly incompetent, corrupt, dishonest sheriff who abuses his power to cover up his department’s incompetence (and, likely, murders), but also has the power to attack good officers.

Radley Balko writes in the Washington Post:

Here at The Watch, we’ve emphasized over and over that the public benefit to outfitting cops with body cameras will only be as good as the rules governing their use. Unfortunately, many state legislators and policymakers are reacting to the “war on cops” narrative by giving all the control to police agencies. That isn’t a recipe for accountability.

Here’s a good roundup at the Verge:

North Carolina, for example, passed legislation last year excluding body camera video from the public record, so footage is not available through North Carolina’s Public Records Act. That means civilians have no right to view police recordings in the Tar Heel state unless their voice or image was captured in the video.

Louisiana also exempts body camera video from public records laws.

South Carolina will only release body camera footage to criminal defendants and the subjects of recordings.

Kansas classifies body camera video as “criminal investigation documents” available only when investigations are closed . . .

In Pennsylvania, the state Senate recently passed Senate bill 560, which would mirror North Carolina’s opaqueness, and allow police to record inside civilian homes without restriction. It just passed the state House.

In Massachusetts, bill S. 1307 would mandate that body camera video “be kept confidential absent a court order.” It has been referred to the state Senate’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Arkansas legislators made a smart decision by letting HB 1248 — a bill that would have made body camera video a “confidential record” — die in the state house, at least for now. If Arkansas residents — and citizens all over the country — don’t pay attention, it’s likely that bills like this one will reemerge. Then not only will body camera footage strengthen the surveillance state and fuel facial recognition and predictive policing systems, it’ll also be impossible for civilians to view it — which, for civilians, is the primary reason body cameras made sense in the first place.

At the same time, the New York Times recently reported that some police agencies have been preemptively releasing footage that depicts police officers performing brave and heroic deeds. . .

Continue reading.

Using body cameras for PR should be made illegal. Or, better, make all footage, good or bad, available to the public. By cherry-picking deeds of valor (which do happen) and omitting any footage of police brutality, shooting of unarmed civilian, and the like (and those also happen though almost always from non-police cameras), the public gets an unrealistic upbeat view of the status of police activity. I bet that sheriff down in Florida could put together a fine and glowing portrait of himself, provided he gets to pick the footage and do the edits.

That seems to be where we’re headed.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 June 2017 at 3:32 pm

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