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Body Cameras on LEO & Ferguson, the true cost of accountability

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Riot, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    This is going to be a long post...so sorry in advance.

    First of all, I'm prior Military Police and currently a Corrections Officer in WA. I don't affiliate myself with any political party- but if people ask I tell them I'm Libertarian (because I'm anti-Authoritarian).

    It's tough being pro-LEO and anti-Police State...

    Some of the arguments I've had (especially with fellow co-workers) has been with body cameras; both on Corrections and on local Police.

    Personally, I am all for body cameras. I think that body cameras weed out bad cops and support good cops. I think a lot of the resistance with body cameras is the audio portion since nobody wants to have someone constantly over their shoulder going "hey, you can't call him a 'dumb*ss!" because, frankly, when dealing with dumb*sses all day (or the same one's constantly) you will end up losing your cool.

    I can tell you stories of guys throwing feces, assaulting me and damaging state property then pretending an hour later like he's your buddy then throwing a tray at you and calling you every name under the sun the next hour- but I digress...

    The argument against body cameras is cost. Cost and manpower to deal with the storage of video, sifting through and reviewing video during investigations and processing public disclosure requests (editing film to protect victim information, cropping and copying videos for distribution) with Public Disclosure requests being the big one (since many people do public disclosure requests just to sue the state).

    However, looking at it from a fiscal standpoint- let's look at Ferguson, Missouri. Now I realize this is conjecture, but couldn't Darrin Wilson's career have been salvaged if he had a body camera that could have supported his statement? Would protests not have been so violent if their narrative (the "hands up" theory) would have been debunked from the get-go?

    The cost of the Ferguson protests has been enormous...for security alone (National Guard activation, private security contracts, added police activation) cost the state of Missouri a whopping $12.5 million. That is excluding property damages done by the actual riots. Property damage estimates are still being counted as protestors seem to be re-igniting over even the most justified of shootings (even with video to support). Here is the most comprehensive list of property damages I could find (even showing before and after photos).

    Now it could be argued that much of Ferguson's protests could have been avoided if the Police Department would have sent out a summarized press release of the incident and Darrin Wilson's injuries before the protests (the media is going to be fed, even if you don't feed it) rather than simply stating "it's under investigation, no questions" and leave the narrative to the imagination (which was later filled by lies, guesses and racial banter). It could also be argued that Ferguson probably wouldn't even be burning if race baiters like Al Sharpton shut their mouths before all the facts came to light...but I digress again.

    Although I used Ferguson as an example, the point of this thread is to discuss whether body cameras on public servants is a good thing when compared to the cons (cost, manpower, lawsuits if FOI/Public Disclosure requests aren't fulfilled within a "timely" manor).

    *Does it do more good than harm to have body cameras on our public servants?
    *What are your thoughts on making body cameras mandatory?
    *Should the Federal Government help with the costs, storage and/or requests of information for every agency?


    Discuss...
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
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  2. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    I am on my phone so a long reply is out of the question. But personally I think camera on LE should be mandatory. Off the top of my head it's the only additional government cost I would be willing to bare without question. What we need is accountable law enforcement, and currently we simply have nothing but the officers word. Even if he is a good, honest person his account may not reflect the actual event
     
  3. soberups

    soberups Newberg Well-Known Member

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    I am all for body cameras.

    Not only will they weed out bad cops, but more importantly they will (a) vindicate the good ones and (b) motivate many of the citizens who encounter cops to behave in a more civil and respectable manner.

    I would also like to see a class....call it "Dealing With Police Encounters 101"....to be a required part of high-school curriculum. It would include a classroom Q/A session with an officer and discussions on the proper way to conduct oneself during a traffic stop.

    I would also like to see a requirement that all members of the "citizen review boards" who evaluate the excessive use-of-force complaints against police spend a minimum of 60 hours in a patrol car doing ride-alongs with police so that they could gain at least some perspective.
     
  4. karlsantx

    karlsantx New Member

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    Excellent post. I support the use of body cameras by LEOs. But it is no panacea; there will always be anarchists and race baiters calling for riots. We should adopt a zero tolerance for violence stance at all protests.
     
  5. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    While this is no doubt the 'feel good' rational for body cams look at the recent shooting in Ferguson - a kid, caught on camera pointing a gun at the LEO, gets killed - the 'debunking' doesn't get any BETTER than this yet it sparks another protest? It should be abundantly clear the problem is a complete and total lack of respect for the law - on all levels - by a certain 'element' of society. Camera evidence? hardly a thought for people whose level of humanity is so degraded they have no respect for themselves or their environment. This element wants complete freedom to burn and pillage without consequences. Until this dangerous 'groupthink' mentality is changed - or eliminated - I don't see camera evidence as having any effect on reducing protests.
     
  6. etrain16

    etrain16 Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I guess until something better comes along (if it ever does), these cameras are a great start. Punk thugs can be shown for what they are and police can be held accountable. The only issue I've really heard with these cameras is that they can only record in short bursts - maybe a minute to a couple of minutes max, and they will record over themselves. In addition, the officers have to start the recording themselves. So what if they forget to start them because they didn't have time, or, maybe they 'forget' to start them so there's no record of the incident?

    They're not a perfect solution, but I'm hopeful they're a step in the right direction.
     
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  7. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    Stand alone- and without the media attention and race baiting- these individual shootings spark no outcry. Together, however, gets stacked on to show a pattern...to fit an agenda of bias reporting.

    http://www.wusa9.com/story/entertai...-martin-al-sharpton-benjamin-watson/20257055/

    Dr. Phil went all the way to Zimmerman with this one...so it's no surprise that when a black teenager a few miles from Ferguson gets shot it all sparks back up again.

    Even Dr. Phil's interview was very bias...they had one side for one incident- then the families of Eric Brown, Mike Garner, Al Sharpton and even two guys involved with a fist-a-cuffs with officers in a restaurant. The agenda is racial profiling...which is funny because:

    Untitled.png
     
  8. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    The most faded ink written on paper will always trump the best memory.
    So, with that analogy I cast my vote for body cameras on everybody.
     
  9. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I vote for almost anything that increases government transparency - regardless of the monetary cost (and I agree that in the long run, the monetary cost would be more than offset by the reduced cost of lawsuits and riots etc.).

    I look at the cost of the cams (and incidental costs) as the price of having a transparent government, something that is mandatory, even more so with gov. becoming more and more corrupt and trying to hide more and more of its actions.

    As for the follow on riots despite the use of a cam. I would assert had the first shooting been on cam and had bore out the assertions of the LEO, then the first riots may not have happened at all, and then the follow ons would have either. IMO any of the riots are just excuses to loot and do harm. Protests are one thing, rioting and looting are inexcusable IMO.
     
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  10. soberups

    soberups Newberg Well-Known Member

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    I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that in order to have any evidentiary value in a court proceeding, there would need to be some sort of safeguard that prevents the police from selectively turning them on and off or editing the recordings. Basically, in the event of a shooting they would become a piece of evidence and subject to the same chain-of-custody procedures as other evidence.

    As far as the recording time goes...I'm also not a tech geek but my beat up, plain-Jane, 3 year-old iPhone 4 has the memory capacity to record at least a couple of hours of video and that is with it also being a phone and an app-running device. A modern, comparably sized, single-purpose bodycam would almost certainly have the capacity to store many tens of hours of video and would have no need to record over itself or be limited to short bursts.
     
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  11. Caveman Jim

    Caveman Jim West of Oly Springer Slayer 2016 Volunteer

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    Great post Riot.

    I vote for body cameras on ALL public servants, even the elected ones at ALL levels of government!!!!
     
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  12. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    As for storage, I would expect that they would need to store video for some time, not just let the vid from today's shift overwrite the vid from yesterday's shift. I.E., vid would probably need to be stored for at least weeks, possibly months or even years.

    It would add up when you have multiple cams. NYC PD has what, 40K LEOs?
     
  13. jrprich

    jrprich PNW Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea of body cams but making they effective will be very costly and take a long time for most police agencies. I think most of the public think that the police department can just order up a set of body cams and issue them to every officer tomorrow. Most will not think about the many problems such as storage and time to review. With most public documents, which these videos will be, is that there are already laws that require storage of such documents for years. Plus that storage will need to be backed up in case of fire, flood, etc. This will require a team of experienced techs to manage. For body cams to be most effective they will need to stream their video to cloud storage as storing it on the cam is too subject to human error or worse. This will require a secure wireless network that works in every area that the police patrol........such a network does not currently exist. And creating a secure wireless network is extremely difficult.
    I see lots of roadblocks to making this idea work well.
     
  14. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I interviewed some years ago with a company that made a system that interfaced with body cams and dash cams.

    The body/dash cams stored vid on a hard drive in the car. When the patrol car returned to the police station the vid was downloaded from the car. This was all done in a "secure" fashion (I wasn't particularly impressed with their tech, but it apparently worked).

    One of the common network fallacies is that the network is always available. For something like this problem domain, even with a wireless network available everywhere, you would still need local storage to buffer the vid for those times the network is simply not available.

    The solution of storing locally until you get back to a central location where the vid can be wirelessly uploaded to a storage server is a plausible solution for this problem.

    Nothing is perfect, but then perfect is the enemy of good.
     
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  15. jrprich

    jrprich PNW Well-Known Member

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    Did the body cam send the local video to the car via wireless or did the Officer have to remove the cam and dock it in the car? Seems any system that relies on turning the body cam on or off or removing from the Officer will be full of user errors as well as plausible excuses as to why the cam didn't record some crucial footage..........
     
  16. soberups

    soberups Newberg Well-Known Member

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    Video from an uneventful patrol shift could be downloaded at the end of each shift and saved for a month or two before being deleted.

    On any shift where force was used, the device would be confiscated and the video stored/saved etc using standard chain-of-custody protocols for evidence.
     
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  17. jrprich

    jrprich PNW Well-Known Member

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    I doubt current law would allow this. Currently, many states require companies to store all their email for years. So why would video be any different?
     
  18. Gunguy45

    Gunguy45 Well-Known Member

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    Everyone acts better when they know they are accountable. I forget the name of the town in California that went with cameras, but they had something like a 60% reduction in citizen complaints when they put the cameras on.

    Cameras will never tell the WHOLE story, but this is an area where technology can make a big difference. There are plenty of departments that are filled with thugs and bullies. Chicago is one of them.
    The camera is the only way to identify these rotten apples and get rid of them. I don't care HOW much it costs.
     
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  19. etrain16

    etrain16 Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I was a bit surprised by the limited recording time. The information I have was based on a news story showing some of the models that several departments are using. I too was curious about why such a device would have such limited recording capacity - you'd think they could make something with a 64gb SD card that could hold an hour or more easily. They also made the point that once the device is full, it would continue to record, over the oldest recording in the memory. And they noted the officers themselves are responsible to start the recordings. If you were to 'forget' to start the recording, maybe because you were in a stressful situation, then there is no 'evidence' to include in the chain of custody.

    Like I said, I was a bit surprised by the information shared in the story. I also agree that the technology should be able to provide far more than what the cameras in the story could actually do.
     
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  20. BoonDocks36

    BoonDocks36 Oregon, in the boondocks Christian. Conservative. Male.

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    There, fixed it, More Better.

    philip :confused: