Body Cameras: Law Enforcement’s Tool to Control the Conversation

Body Cameras: Law Enforcement's Tool to Control the Conversation

Police interaction was expected to change with the enforcing of body cameras. That at least was the hope of many cop reformists and civil rights activists. In the end, body cams have done little to curb the killing of unarmed men and women, mentally ill or not, and have done little in winning convictions against trigger happy, “untrained” cops. Because ultimately, the excuse is the officers need more training. For a profession that constantly needs more training you would expect there would be more stringent licensing and overseeing but that is not the case with the cop profession. Instead of dangling bait for the best and brightest, departments around the country have pined away for the school bully’s victim or other social outcast for the most part. Not all cops are bad but that just means that not ALL cops are good. We must stop being afraid to address the not-so-good ones.

In any case, body cameras were expected to make a monumental difference but instead they are leaving us with more questions than answers. Body cameras were supposed to be a gesture of transparency between police and the communities they prey upon but broad policy regulations across the board limit what video can be released, to whom it can be released, when it can be released, and how much (edited or unedited) can be released. Overcome one hurdle only to find a dozen more in the hunt for transparency.

This is something that I’ve been mulling over this past weekend…. the timing of the release of the body camera footage. Many times you have departments stating that they can not release the footage because it will hinder or taint the investigation, compromise potential jurors, paint the officer or department in an unfavorable light and more. But it’s the video. Let the video tell the truth. Instead of letting the world see exactly how things went down, investigators and pr officials have to review the footage and create a narrative. The narrative is meant to distract and disavow what your eyes are telling you and instead listening to how they paint the story. When it comes to body cameras, in most cases seeing is not believing. Your eyes are lying to you and your brain is not the functional capacity of police officers so you’re misconstruing what is happening on camera. Yes the officer fired his weapon at an unarmed man who was begging for his life but the video is taken out of context. The narration provides you with the context while lying to you about what you are viewing.

There have been multiple cases where an officer has been exonerated or acquitted of excessive force or brutality or what have you and afterwards the damning video is released countering the story provided. Such is the reason for the delayed release of body cam footage. Sometimes you even have attorneys and family members view the video before it’s released to the public but an NDA limits what they can tell the press and the rest of the public about the footage until it’s official release if it ever gets released.

Such is the problem with body cameras. We mentioned before here on TLE that body cameras would do little and they are living up to our expectations here at TLE. Stop being force fed the lies. Demand real accountability. Demand justice for just us. That is the only way to turn this ship around.