Police Cameras / by kevin murray

Depending upon the community that you live in, you may already be inundated with cameras at traffic lights, cameras at intersections, cameras at daycare, cameras outside stores, cameras inside stores, and whatnot.  It would appear that in today's world virtually any activity that is done in the public square is subject to being recorded.  Perhaps that is good, perhaps that is mainly bad.  What this does mean, more or less, is that the public and society in general is more accepting of their activities being recorded.  Further, the type of activities that are in the most need of being recorded are situations to which a citizen is interacting with an officer of the law, because police officers have what appears to be incredibly broad capabilities of arresting, interfering, helping, hurting, or apprehending citizens.


While some police officers may balk at being recorded while performing their duties their primary duty is to protect and to serve the public, not to be the law, not to be above the law, but to see that law is fairly applied within their domain.  I do not for a minute; believe that being a police officer is an easy job, or an easy duty, it is a massive responsibility, not easily accomplished, which entails a strong devotion to principles, discretion, and self-control.  It is also very important to remember that police are however never our masters, they are public servants, receiving their money, their livelihood, and their budget, from the taxpaying citizens of their community to which they must answer to.


When it comes down to police footage of the automated tape of incidents engaging the public, the question must be asked as to who the master is of that recording.  The answer should be it should never be the law enforcement agency itself, because once you decide that law enforcement can both record events and subsequently also be the master of its fate, you have defeated a significant portion of the purpose of the recording in the first place, because it doesn't take any stretch of the imagination to quickly understand that situations that are culpable to police activity will have a tendency to either disappear, become lost, compromised, delayed, or edited, meaning that true events have been modified.  Instead, the recordings themselves should actually be vetted by the same kinds of people that make up a grand jury, as it should ultimately be the people themselves that monitor the policing actions within their community.  Additionally, the beauty of a grand jury type system for this type of oversight is that grand juries, by definition, have basic terms of approximately 18 months, which essentially means that you need not excessively worry about the watchers becoming in cahoots with the watchmen.


On-body police cameras are a significant step in the right direction; it virtually mandates transparency in the interaction of our police force within the community.  In fact, for communities that utilize on-body police cameras exclusively, it is wise to let the general public know this, as just the knowledge that one's activities are being recorded, affords the opportunity to give-in to the better angels of our nature.