Friday, August 5, 2016

None So Blind

My son was, as he often does, watching Youtube videos, and he happened upon one that had an interesting topic. In order to try to prevent charges against police officers, a district had equipped officers with cameras clipped to their uniforms. According to the study (which was admittedly a very small sample) the incidents of complaints against officers and use of force both declined significantly.

What was interesting was what the video maker considered as potential downsides. Or rather, I suppose in this age, it was not so surprising. All his concerns were about privacy. Where would officers record? Could videos end up being broadcast in public. Could old videos be searched for evidence of other crimes. And so on.

It is interesting that he never considered the other potential problem, the one that came to my mind immediately. What if, because he was concerned that his actions might be second guessed and judged, the camera made an officer hesitate to use force properly? What if, because of such concerns an officer ended up letting a suspect escape or ended up injured or dead?

Then again, perhaps I should not be so surprised. In this day and age, it seems the assumption is the police will act improperly, so the biggest worries for many probably are privacy. But the truth is, there are times when force is proper, and even when an officer should use force. Thus, if these measures make an officer hesitant to use force properly, it would be an impediment to proper law enforcement. And it is rather telling that those concerns never even occurred to the video maker.

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