Opinion

Body cameras only short-term solution

Recently, the Miami Beach City Commission decided to equip city employees with body cameras. This means that police, fire, parking, code and building inspectors will be wearing cameras to film their interactions with citizens.

Many cities have been pushing for police body cameras, but outfitting municipal workers is an unprecedented move for Miami Beach lawmakers. The initiative came after allegations of corruption among public officials and excessive use of force among city police. Tragic police shootings, especially in Ferguson, Missouri, were the final push for the unanimous passing of this action.

This program has been lauded for obvious reasons. Accountability is necessary, especially in places with a reputation for police corruption. The footage could also provide more accurate testimony for crime in court. This might prove integral in criminal trials because eyewitnesses can be unreliable.

On the other hand, this action has caused a lot of concern. Not only does it violate the privacy of public officials, it violates the privacy of citizens as well. Police can use their cameras whenever they please, and that means constant monitoring of city activity. That is a scary proposition for many Miami Beach residents. Another obvious concern with the program is its cost. The city allotted $3 million to buy cameras. This cost will increase as the program expands to more officers and technology improves.

After events in Ferguson and beyond, police corruption has ceased to be a problem we have the privilege of ignoring. It’s become a deadly threat that can unravel a community. When a neighborhood is on the brink of a similar disaster, there needs to be an immediate patch on the situation to ease tensions. This increased accountability could provide that patch for the communities that need it the most.

But the fundamental problem with this law is just that. This is a short-term solution to a problem that has been in this country since Jim Crow. It addresses no underlying causes. Police violence comes from a militaristic mentality.

Many police departments have a culture of viewing citizens and criminals as the enemy, as “other.” A person can be good or bad, a criminal or a victim, never both. The way to truly change this mentality isn’t by making police feel watched, but to rebuild trust in the community. Programs that get police officers involved in community activities like tending gardens, coaching youth sports leagues and being educational mentors may be more successful in repairing this broken mentality.

Annie Cappetta is a freshman majoring in political science and ecosystem science and policy.

October 15, 2014

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Annie Cappetta


ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Body cameras only short-term solution”

  1. donalds says:

    All Levels of Law Enforcement Should Make Policy that Polygraphs for New Hires Expire Every 5yrs. (Including hires for higher ranking positions)

    National Institute of Ethics: Police Code of Silence – Facts Revealed ~ http://t.co/WNrpRE5

    The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project ~ http://t.co/ROQqSO0

    DoD: Random Lie -Detector Tests Increase Personnel Security. (8-6-12) ~ http://t.co/Tr7uafTd ( “the polygraph is the most effective tool for finding information people are trying to hide”

    BERNAMA – Polygraph Test Capable Of Addressing Corruption Among Law Enforcers – Crime Analyst http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v7/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1072084 (9-26-14)

    Center for Investigative Reporting ~ “Crossing the line: Corruption at the border” – http://bordercorruption.apps.cironline.org/

    National Journel – How Drug Cartels Try to Corrupt Federal Employees (4-12-11) – http://t.co/fMENr6o

    The good, brave officers with integrity deserve better. And so does the public…………………

    Cameras to help fight Misconduct. Polygraphs to help fight Corruption.

    Break the Code. Break the Culture.

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