Cameras on Cops?
Posted By Attorney Terry Noffsinger || 12-Feb-2016
What’s happening out there? Shootings in the inner cities. Then more violence because there was violence. Ferguson, Baltimore… where else?
The police have come under fire; I guess it’s because people don’t think they’re doing good enough job enforcing the law.
What should we do? One suggestion is requiring the police to wear cameras. The idea is that these “body cameras” will take the controversy out of police shootings and other uses of force because “what really happened” will be captured on video for all to see.
If that’s a really good idea (and I’m not saying it is), where else could we use such cameras? As a lawyer, I could discuss all kinds of legal theories which might be applicable (right to privacy, anti-recording laws, etc.) but for now, let’s forget all of that. Let’s just focus on other areas of our society where it is important to learn “what really happened.”
One place that comes to mind is in the hospitals. The New York Times recently reported each year between 98,000 and 440,000 people die as a result of preventable errors in hospitals. That’s a lot more deaths than we’re seeing in the inner cities from gun violence—why not put cameras there? It’s been said that the “long blue line” of police officers will lie to support fellow officers. Will doctors and nurses do likewise? Will cameras show us what really happened?
This leads me to wonder if we need the same camera system in Congress and our State Houses. A recent Salt Lake City Tribune article reported that just 7% of every donation to legislative campaigns came from average citizens. Lobbyists, corporations, political action committees, advocacy groups and business leaders donate 82%. That gives them access. Well, what do they do and say during that access? Would cameras tell us? Maybe, although we’d have to require them not just in Congress and our State Houses but also at the nearby posh restaurants, or other meeting places, and, now that I think about it, almost everywhere! Let’s get to the bottom of this. Why DO our government officials so often retire to lives of luxury? Or do they?
Of course, all these cameras would cost a lot of money. But what else can we do? After all, the reason they are in such demand is that they have to replace something else that we can’t buy, and is so rare: honesty.
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