Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti has ordered the roll out of 7000 body cameras for police officers all over the city.
While attending a press conference, he assured that the pieces of equipment “are not a panacea, but they are a critical part of the formula.” In an effort to increase transparency between law enforcement and the public, Garcetti considers them “a great step forward.”
In the wake of police brutality protests in Ferguson and NYC, body cameras have become a hot topic in the efforts to hold police accountable. Michael Brown’s murder trail came with conflicting stories and citizens feel that it may have gone differently had their been a recording.
On the other hand, the case of Eric Garner, (who was choked to death in New York City for the entire world to see thanks to a cellphone video) a clear video means nothing in many cases. Daniel Pantaleo, the officer caught on video using a banned maneuver to bring Garner to the ground (and ultimately, his death) was not indicted on any charges by a grand jury. According to St. Louis University School of Law professor Justin Hansford, these cameras could possibly do more harm than good.
One of the first things noticed about the photo above is how the camera is attached to the officer’s chest. This means that you can see the other person’s behavior, but not that of the officer. You don’t get a full view of the situation. You don’t know what the officer might be doing that may warrant a particular reaction. If nothing else, it’s only offering another way to shun accountability away from the officers.
This is the exact opposite of the justice we want as nation. Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo are free men thanks to their blue privilege. We are supposed to believe they behaved justifiably in the situation because their role in society is to protect the citizens. They are free men thanks to the fact that police officers are nearly immune to the already weak laws in place. As we observed in the case of the Seattle police officer who punched a handcuffed woman, state law allowed him the use of any means up to and including death to make an arrest. And plenty of states offer laws that are similar in effect.
Instead of petitioning for body cameras that only see one side of the story, we should be lobbying for more stringent police accountability laws.