Good op-ed from Bill of Rights Defense Committee's Shahid Buttar on problems with police body cameras

Police body cameras have been touted by many police reform activists, as well as politicians like president Obama, as a solution to the rampant problem of police abuses, shootings, and use of excessive force. But they clearly come with minuses as well as pluses. As Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, argues in an op-ed piece for Truthout,

"First, there's no guarantee that the public will ever see footage from police body cameras, especially in cases where it may be helpful to defendants or civil litigants.

When police have been observed filming demonstrations, for instance, civil litigants have been unable to gain access to footage in discovery due to self-serving police claims (not unlike the CIA's claims when evading accountability for human rights abuses like torture) that the footage was either lost, recorded over, or never captured in the first instance.

Second, even when body camera footage is public, it remains an inadequate solution at best. Cameras captured video of Eric Garner's death, which millions of people watched on YouTube. But video neither saved Eric Garner nor helped hold his murderers accountable.

Moreover, even when everything does work as their proponents suggest, body cameras offer transparency only into particular incidents, not into patterns or practices..."

  Ultimately, he contends, it comes down to this:

"The real problem - which the president and Congress continue to ignore - is a legal system granting police broad latitude to commit civil rights violations."

  More at the link:

Love & Liberty,
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