Body Cameras Worn by Police Officers Are No ‘Safeguard of Truth,’ Experts Say

Questions remain about the extent to which video can prevent violent citizen encounters or clarify the boundaries of appropriate police response.

Comments: 166

  1. "In Rialto, Calif.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Phoenix, the use of force and civilian complaints against officers when they wore cameras decreased. But Mr. White cautioned: “We have no idea what the dynamics are that are leading to those reductions.”

    We need to distinguish between video recordings as evidence, which as admitted in this article are NOT a slam dunk, and video recordings as a partial substitute for conscience (defined, cynically, as that small quiet inner voice that tells us someone may be watching).

    The policeman in the recent NYC case presumably did not KNOW that he was being photographed (on a cell phone camera), whereas police officers who are wearing their own camera would know full well they are being recorded. This could explain the quotation I placed at the top of this comment.

    I might add that the cameras should ALWAYS be turned on during the entire time an officer is on duty, so they cannot forget, or perhaps "forget" to turn them on.

    44 years ago I wrote an article calling for equipping all police officers with sound recorders (video was technically out of the question then) to serve as evidence and as an artificial conscience both for police and for those they interact with. The article was never published, but I recently put a scan of the original manuscript on my website, since it addresses many current issues.

  2. Let's not blame the video for the failings of our so-called justice system. It is not that video is not helpful. Video absolutely is helpful. The problem is a legal system that allows police brutality on the thinnest of pretenses. We need to change our laws. Meanwhile, cops should absolutely be required to wear video cameras and they should never be allowed to turn them off while they are on duty. I'm sure there are cameras and recorders small enough to make this a practical reality.

  3. The cameras won't be a panacea, but they will help. If nothing else, they'll serve as a deterrent so rogue cops won't feel like they can do whatever they want because they won't get caught or the complaints won't be believed.

  4. Videos will help. However, it will not solve the underlying problem in police community relations, which is that the police are not part of the community but apart from the community. Police officers should be required to live in the jurisdictions they serve and get out of their cars and get to know the people they serve and protect. If the police and the public know each other on a human level, we will not have 12 year olds be gunned down for carrying a toy gun.

  5. Body cameras are better than no cameras.

  6. These new cameras, you know, are gonna get us a lot of swell pictures of the sky and cops' necks.

  7. This newspaper's ignorance by arrogance not publishing viewers awareness of the nation’s simmering racial stew as threatening to blow, in effect, is reinforcing many Americans beliefs blacks are comfortable with their centuries old status quo.

    At this rate of selective police brutality toward blacks; the last link in their oppression is unhinged; this is what ISIS and America's enemies may see as a windfall for their recruitment. These multiples of police brutality; a national political party, States, a Cable network and Supreme Courts' decisions inhibiting exercise of voting and human rights are doing more harm to internal security than slavery and Jim Crow ever did. These protesters are not born from patiently church going oppressed.

    And one does not have to be sociologist or anthropologist to know even great nations’ disintegration starts from its societal core wherein inhabitants either believe they are stakeholders, or not.

    Before this decades long simmering police-racial issue leads to irreversible explosions in our faces; these Judicial, political and communications systems now acting as divisors should immediately connect dots to how they are contributing toward racial disorder.

    However, regardless of that introspection, it is suicide continuing these centuries’ old policies denying blacks a full piece of the franchise, but treating them as the other. This apparently flip policy too denying its consequences ultimately will inure to all our detriment.

  8. Thank you. You are right. We need to have an honest conversation about about the way things really are NOW. It is a dangerous (and, I might add, un-Christian) strategy to keep pitting humans against one another to achieve cheap unities of political power, as you have pointed out. I think of Dr. King's question, "Where do we go from HERE?"

  9. Unless the video is sent directly to a third party server, and unless the camera can't be turned off, it's all worthless. Now is the WORST time to introduce cop cameras, with trust in aw enforcement at an all time low.

  10. Wouldn't this be the time to turn the tide? Let's not go lax on criminals, let's just realize who they are and who they aren't.

  11. Now after calls for police to wear body cams, I guess liberals realize it will mostly show police justification...

  12. If it doesn't so be it. But if it does so be it. What's to be lost here?

  13. I'm sure it will. But where is the harm in that? I'd think that police officers who have acted responsibly would want a record of that, to avoid unwarranted accusations.

  14. Yes...the answer here is that in many cases it will help support the officers account of what took place. Try to understand police do not respond to Birthday Parties they respond to crimes. As for proactive police officers who are going after small violations (the so called Squeegee laws) I wish POLICE OFFICERS would lighten up a little. Crime is not what it was thirty years ago in New York City. This policy should be reevaluated.

  15. The press has commented that video cameras are no panacea against police violence. If anyone knows of a panacea for anything, let's do it! But video cameras will make us feel somewhat safer, and that is worth something.

  16. None of these measures are apt to be worth more than a warm bucket of spit so long as District Attorneys continue in the role of accomplices after the fact as they protect cops who commit homicides and other acts of violence.

  17. I'm sure that in the future there will be some back lash and we could wind up having a staged enforcement policing. The question that concerns me is: will we be safer. The police may think twice before subduing a violent criminal. I know I would if I were a cop. I Would bet many of the PBA and police union representatives are advising their members on ways to reduce their exposure.

  18. pepperman33:

    "will we be safer"

    ...from criminals? Worth asking. That question seems not to be prominent in the Attorney General's, NYC Mayor's or many outspoken public officials' minds right now.

  19. The police should think twice about using deadly force. If they are so concerned about their own safety that they are willing to kill innocent people through rash and incorrect judgments then they should consider a safer line of work. People in other countries would be horrified if the rash of police killings we have experienced were to occur there. We should consider why we have come to believe that erring on the side of violence is always better than erring on the side of caution.

  20. Police should be required to attend annual recurrent training mandated by federal law.

    Each state should follow Wisconsin's lead in having a conflict of interest-free third party investigate and prosecute police homicides.

    IMHO, these officers should not have been granted immunity.

    Body cameras on officers are a good idea but that's just a Band-Aid for problems that stem from poor training and development infrastructure.

  21. The other problem, which most people writing here on the topic of the "problems" is the failure of too many people to comply with police directives. They simply disregard the authority of the police, and that does not work.

  22. A real sense of transparency and accountability for body cameras? If a clear high definition cell phone video that captured the death of Eric Garner cannot hold the NYPD transparent and accountable then how is an officer worn body camera supposed to do the trick?

  23. Are the authors of this article proposing that the existence of a video which helps an officer to explain themselves better is inherently bad? What we get with cameras will be better than nothing. I submit that the Eric Gardner grand jury concluded that the 7 seconds that the officer had his arm around his neck was not what killed him. What killed him was an asthma attack and a heart attack brought on by the stress of the arrest and being tackled to the ground. If the arrest was legal and the take down was not illegal than there was no crime. It really is as simple as that.
    The legitimate questions of the propriety of making an arrest for such a crime must and should be argued. The fact that some force was used to control the suspect when he clearly had no intention of complying is not open for debatable. These officers did not know if Mr. Gardner had a weapon or how far he was willing to go to avoid arrest. The officers were required to get the situation under control and then leave it up to the courts to figure out the rest. If Mr. Gardner had argued about the arrest but submitted none of this would have happened. The officers cannot be blamed for the result.

  24. You have made the same self-serving argument that every police officer accused of brutality has made and will forever make.

    If something isn't done now about the problem it never will be and the country's decline into a police state will continue unabated.

  25. Mr Gardner was known to the cops, so they had a good idea of how he would behave, and whether he carried a weapon.

    Heavy-handed escalation should not happen as often has it does; it merely shows that the cop has either little understanding of how to manage people, or is drunk on his own power.

  26. Something tangentially relevant but which is a question one would think the citizenry and officials of New York should be asking is: Is life so un-dangerous, easy and boring for cops that four -- FOUR -- of them (plus a police videographer) had nothing better to do that day than hassle and arrest a man for selling loose cigarettes? Sure, IF he was selling them, it was technically a crime, on a level of carrying an open beer on the street. But was there no real crime, the kind that endangers people? Were there no serious drug-dealers to bust? no burglars or muggers to catch? No wife-beaters to track down? No rapists? Murderers? Bank robbers? In short, is this incident evidence of the so-called 'life-threatening' job that cops allegedly have, where they want us to believe that their lives on on the line every minute? Apparently real crime n New York so minimal and the police force so overstaffed and underemployed that four cops have nothing better to do than arrest and strangle a man for selling loose cigarettes. A good case can be made that all of them should be fired for screwing off on the job.

  27. No "safeguard of truth" is perfect. Nothing on earth is. But if the presence of a body camera in an out-of-the-way location such as, say, Ferguson, Missouri, would make even one police officer a little less trigger-happy, it's worth it, certainly more than MRAPs and similar armored vehicles that cost up to a million dollars apiece and militarize our city streets.

    It's all a matter of priorities. But the most important one ought to be preserving life -- not serving as judge, jury and executioner for unarmed human beings.

  28. You are assuming that the only purpose would be to make the police a little less trigger happy. It might also make them more willing to defend themselves when they know the camera will show, for example, that they are struggling for their own gun with a criminal,bring punched in the face by a criminal, or facing a man who refuses to obey police orders to stop, but instead charges headlong towards them, head down in a butting position.

    How would YOU stop such a man?

  29. People see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear, and take what they want to take. People could see the video of Michael Garner being strangled by a Staten Island cop. It was there just like a video camera on a cop is supposed to record what is happening during his encounters with an individual. So what? Someone could look at the video in this instance and come up with his/her own conclusion. Not to mention that videos and audios are constantly being "misplaced" or mistakenly erased. A politician will tell you the weather is fine while you're getting soaked in the rain. It still comes down to a matter of trust. Bottom line is that trust between police (let alone the politicians) and the public does not exist.

  30. " Bottom line is that trust between police (let alone the politicians) and the public does not exist."

    That is hardly a universal truth. It was hardly the truth for the 6 blacks who testified in the Ferguson Grand Jury trial to the same facts that the policeman gave.

  31. "He intended only to wrestle Mr. Garner to the ground."

    Is that right? How nice that the jury to consider his intent! Funny how if I'm driving drunk, which is illegal just like the chokehold the officer used, the jury will still convict me of manslaughter even if I didn't intend to kill someone.

    This country needs a fair standard of justice and police accountability.

  32. The chokehold is not illegal.

  33. Sad to say it is not like drunk driving which is clearly illegal...

    The chokehold is not illegal under NYS LAW. The chokehold is forbidden under NYPD procedures. Technically on the chokehold alone, the officer did not break the law. The press should stop calling it "illegal" & make clear that it is forbidden by the NYPD but not by law.

    Under NYPD procedures reportedly there is an allowable maneuver that does not block the airways that the officer stated he tried to use. Did he slip and Mr. Garner ended up having his airways blocked? Did he directly use the NYPD-forbidden chokehold and lied? Regardless, you may still not get an indictment because it is not forbidden under NYS law.

    Further, where "intent" comes into this, in my understanding, is that NYS law for some types of manslaughter requires intent. He said he had no intent to kill Mr. Garner, which is probably true. Whether he's credible on not initiating the forbidden maneuver, but rather the allowed one, is certainly an open question for NYPD Internal Affairs.

    Nevertheless, my understanding is that lack of intent for manslaughter was used as a basis for not indicting him.

    A solution: forbid these chokeholds UNDER LAW. Then regardless of intent, this officer might well have been indicted.

    PS Another media source states the Grand Jury was not given the option to consider "reckless endangerment," a lesser charge that does not require" intent." Maybe the NYT should investigate if this is true, and why.

  34. They needed to show intent to indict for manslaughter. The chokehold is actually not illegal in and of itself under NYS law; it only violates NYPD procedure. The press needs to make that clear and the law must clearly be changed.

    Drunk driving is illegal in and of itself.

    I'm not defending the officer but am adding in what are an unfortunate set of facts that could have led to "technicalities" which played into the decision not to indict on manslaughter. This leaves open, of course, why he was not indicted on a lesser charge such as reckless endangerment, as some other media sources note.

  35. Perhaps this approach is far from perfect but it's worth a try. Anything is better then the status quo.

  36. For the moment, body cameras can offer some restraint. A long-term solution would have to go to the roots of the problem. I wish the report also ask police officers what could be an alternative to body cameras, suppose there are some competent police officers out there who have not complete destroyed public trust.

  37. You write that " A long-term solution would have to go to the roots of the problem," but I'll bet we disagree on SOME of the roots of the problem.

    Aren't young people wherever they live taught to respect the authority of the police? In each case we see now, whether justified or not, someone is dead who would not have been dead had he not committed a crime (minor or not--although strong-arm robbery in Ferguson is not "minor") and even after having committed a crime had he not shown disrespect of police authority to arrest him.

    What an awful job the police have. I wouldn't take it in a million years. You are forced to deal with people who may or may not be armed, may or may not be strong enough to kill you with their bare hands, and who refuse otoshow you authority. In the end, your weapon is your only authority when the authority of the badge and uniform is disregarded.

  38. What surprises me is that no one has brought up the relevance of the lack of gun control in this country. It's understandable that those on the front lines, esp if they are required as police to engage with an impoverished population on the grounds of "broken windows," would be exceptionally trigger-anxious. Guns are everywhere in this country in order to satisfy the megalomanic desires of a few hunters and those who really believe that they could shoot it out with a crazy mass murderer. If I were a cop I'd be scared in the face of such a proliferation of weaponry too. Through a lack of appropriate control of the means of instant and casual death, we turn our cops into murderers of the innocent. From a legal point of view that may be tolerable, but not from a moral point of view..

  39. I made a comment on the proliferation of guns in general previously but it did not appear to be published.

    The availability of guns contributes to everyone's fear. The tragic death of Mr. Gurley by the apparently unintentional discharge of a weapon by a rookie cop doing a vertical patrol from roof to ground in a darkened stairwell in the Pink Houses in Brooklyn speaks right to that. In the past two cops have been ambushed and killed doing such patrols. The building next to the one where the tragedy occurred had a shooting the previous week.

    And, apparently, it is accepted practice known to supervisors, according to a NYT story, to do such patrols with upholstered guns.

    So guns feed fear feed guns. It is asking for tragedy to occur. And then, according to at least some commenters, the guns the NYPD issues officers are too easy to unintentionally discharge.

    If an officer is already in an "us vs. them" culture as promoted by Ray Kelly and also knows the guns are out there and is making a very dangerous patrol, disaster can strike. And again, under Kelly, antiterrorism and military-type weapons and equipment become common, another escalation in firepower. So then it becomes guns feed guns feed guns. A torrid, toxic, tragic mix.

  40. There is definitely a shoot first, ask questions later state of mind in this country which is exacerbated by stand your ground, guard the castle attitudes that are law in many states. We seem to live in a gun culture where guns are seen as a first defense.
    I live in a small rural town where instances of violent crime are very rare so when I see a guy carrying a gun into Wal-Mart I have to ask myself who and what the heck does he think he's going to encounter? I also know that if he were a black man exercising open carry in this prevalently white community there would be a dozen 911 calls. A gun culture and racial profiling are a potent negative force.

  41. I can understand cops being scared when anybody they encounter might have a concealed semi-automatic, or something even more powerful. But that still doesn't explain why cops are so much more likely to kill a black person as a white one. Or why Officer Pantaleo put a chokehold on an unarmed man who wasn't fighting him. Or why a cop shot a black 12-year-old with a toy gun, within 2 seconds of arrival on the scene. The only explanation I can come up with--and I'm an old white woman--is racism.

  42. Police should be required to have their video on at all times. If they're caught without it and they make an arrest - that person should walk free. The videos should be made available to the public.

    I'm far, far more fearful of cops than any other segment of the population by FAR. When I was in university I had just started experimenting with alcohol and I blacked out and got in a fight. That IS my responsibility.

    But what nobody who hasn't been to jail, maximum security specifically, understands is the depth of the horror that lurks exists just outside the view of ordinary life. It was the most cruel, inhumane experience I've ever had. I spent time in minimum initially, then without any warning or reason I was sent to maximum. I wish I could actually communicate it to people so they could know, so they could feel my rage and the pain I feel every day. The subtext of violence that permeated everything. Sensory deprivation takes an unspeakable toll on your mind and your soul. Words can't convey what I have felt.

    It's been four years, and I'll be finished with a degree in Engineering in a couple weeks. I've never picked up another drink, and I've never been in another incident, but it doesn't matter. I'm branded and I feel there's no hope for me, and every day I worry about experiencing the horror again and I don't have the courage to face it.

  43. Convicted, it chills me that you had to go through that. Have you spoken to a psychologist about therapy for post-traumatic stress? Traumatic memories lodge in primitive brain centers and persist long after the trauma has ended. This persistence had survival value for ancestors who faced lurking felines, but for us it just means unnecessary pain and distress. Fortunately, psychology has a pretty good record with post-traumatic stress. It can heal us emotionally in a way that, owing to this quirk of evolution, time and life cannot.

  44. Thank you for writing this, friend. We need to hear about the prison system, and especially from someone like you who knows--really knows--what he's talking about.
    I hope you find people who believe in you to be a support group, to assure you that you truly are valuable to all of us, to help you pick up life and go on. I hope you'll contact me. I wish you all the best!
    Dave Montague

  45. Good luck

  46. More information is better than less information. Even if they aren't perfect, body cameras would be a net plus. Asking them to unequivocally resolve all police/citizen disputes is too high a standard. Just as dash cam cameras have done, I would expect that we would see less unnecessary force used by police, and fewer spurious complaints from citizens.

    "Perfection is the enemy of good enough."

  47. Body cameras yes...but what is wrong with the video that clearly shows the man was choked to death? Apparently to the Grand Jury hand selected by the prosecutor it means nothing...and always will until the Grand Jurors are each identified then they may not be bias....

  48. No, cameras won't help with a racist or credulous jury. But they will bring police abuse to the attention of the broader public, as they did in both the Simi Valley and Garner cases, and perhaps, with time, sufficient pressure will build for substantial reforms.

    Also, it seems to me likely that police officers will be on their best behavior if they know an encounter will be recorded. This applies not just to violent behavior, but to abuses such as the tactic of falsely charging someone with resisting arrest or another offense when their sole sin consists of mouthing off or questioning the officer.

    Finally, cameras will serve to protect a police officer who reacts responsibly in an unfortunate situation, or even one who makes a tragic but understandable error.

  49. Perhaps criminals and others who are likely to cause trouble will also be on their better behavior when they know a camera is on them. Works both ways.

  50. Your comment presumes that the juries are racist. In fact, if there was a discrimination problem with the Ferguson Grand Jury,the transcript indicates that the problem existed among the black perjurers, and not the white policeman:

    Six black jurors--BLACK jurors--testified exactly as policeman Wilson did on every detail. They did this in secret, because had the evidence been presented openly, as protesters complain it should have been, they would never have dared come forth.

    Protests like this one, while a grand jury is sitting and deciding a case, are an unsubtle means of pressure. The message was: find guilt, or we will riot. The jury didn't and they did. That is not justice; that is a lynch mob, in case the well-meaning protesters didn't notice that about themselves. Justice isn't decided under pressure. Presumptions of racism are sometimes aimed at the wrong race.

    In the Ferguson grand jury case, the "hands up don't shoot" being repeated by protesters indicates either that they do not know the following, or just don't care about facts:

    Witnesses who first claimed that Brown had his hands up and/or was shot in the back each later changed their stories when confronted with forensic evidence to the contrary. They admitted they had been "assuming" certain "facts" or simply repeating what they had heard from others in the crowd. The trouble here is that they don't understand the way the justice process works.

  51. Having served on many juries both grand juries, criminal and civil, I never found them to be filled with racist jurors. We all viewed the evidence very carefully and reached the same conclusion. I must also mention that the juries were equally divided with all races present. I think video cameras are the way to go for police officers until the are able to find a better solution. I must add that I was very surprised in the decision not to indict the officer involved in Eric Garner's death after seeing the video numerous times. It was heartbreaking to watch in my opinion. I was not surprised that Officer Wilson was not indicted in the Michael Brown case and I think it was the right decision. Looking at the video of Michael Brown shoving the store clerk after stealing the cigars shows he was no shy retiring violet.

  52. As has been said elsewhere, the problem underlying continued brutal treatment of black males by police is that black males are perceived across American society as criminals.

    Black males are stopped, harassed, intimidated, and humiliated by police again and again just for being who they are, and they are arrested for petty infractions for which white males are scolded and let go.

    There is also an insidious authoritarianism pervading American society since corporations have taken it over.

    It used to be that civil society made the rules in the USA, but now corporations make their own rules, have their own private security forces, and when broader societal norms are in question, buy lawmakers to force American compliance with corporations' dictates.

    Protesters exercising freedom of assembly and speech, as with Occupy, are attacked violently by militarized police, the net effect being that police do not see themselves protecting the communities they serve but protecting some vague notion of order that serves the authoritarian interests of the corporations.

    Mix this authoritarian attitude with race, and you have police turning to physical violence and brandishing their guns to control black males who do not immediately become completely submissive to police commands, for the most part issued over trivia.

    You can't rule a society for long with force. Without the consent of the governed, rebellion is the only possibility.

  53. You might not to mention this when you call 911 to report an intruder in your house.

  54. There is absolutely no evidence of racism in this case. Police overreaction yes, and it is hard to imagine how their wasn't an indictment of at least negligent homicide. In fact, Mr. Gardner's daughter said she did think it was racism.

    The outcry of racism is pure speculation and FBI crime statistics don't support your claims. With about an equal number of crimes committed in 2012 more whites (326) were killed by police officers than blacks (123) It seems police officers are "brandishing their guns to control" white males more than "black males"

  55. This is what happens when people in foreign countries only see the United States through the lens of a CNN camera.

  56. NYC Mayor de Blasio: “body cameras are one of the ways to create a real sense of transparency and accountability.”

    I get the feeling the mayor really doesn't know what he's talking about.

  57. Thats a surprise?????? He IS a politician, and that is not a requirement for holding public office.

  58. Most NY police know what needs to be done.

  59. My friends still call me Sheriff John. After Sheriff John of 1950's TV fame. I spent 25 years in law enforcement and have served on police review and promotion boards. I also suffer from a legal education.

    Video cameras work. They do document what takes place in an interaction, especially when it gets serious. The officer or deputy will be on his or her best behavior knowing the camera is running. You only need to check the statistics to see a dramatic drop in citizen's complaints and use of force incidents.

    Bad actors can always turn the device off but that only works once at best and then he may be off working in the fast food industry. Sadly, police officers are not all the same. Poor recruitment, poor training and retention of bad apples clouds the discussion. Poor pay is another problem. The poor pay is not an issue in large metropolitan areas but in smaller communities with a modest tax base.

    If you want the best you gotta pay for it. All police agencies within a given state should have a fixed salary for all officers. I can tell you the best and brightest candidates always go for the money as everyone does. If you had equal pay throughout a state you would see a better candidate base at even the smallest city.

    Let's hope the anguish and suffering we see in Ferguson and New York will bring a better day for all of us. The Black community, Brown community and all minorities deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

  60. A wise man (Juan Domingo Perón) once said "people are inherently good, but if they are being watched, they are better". Knowing that they are more accountable might make policemen more mindful of guidelines and policies.

    Also, I agree with the commenter who said that, in a society where weapons are so easy to come by, police has to treat everyone as potentially armed and dangerous. Reducing the amount of weapons in civilians' hands will result in less stolen guns being available for violent crime and thus less armed crime will take place.

  61. Eric Garner was summarily executed for selling a cigarette. It was filmed and the grand jury still did not indict.

  62. And big cities exploded. How much of that are they willing to ignore?

  63. Got it. Video recording of police interactions with citizens is not perfect and needs further studies. But this country is in something of a crisis in policing, mostly in black communities by white police officers. Theories and excuses are rampant in social media including blaming the victims. But does anyone think the justification for killing Michael Brown would have been rendered less understandable, less clear if there was a video and sound record of what happened? I would like to hear that argument.

  64. It's not a perfect tool but it's a better tool than no tool.

  65. Officers of the Albuquerque Police Dept. (recently the subject of an investigation by the Dept. of Justice after a string of police shootings and other charges of abuse and misconduct ) were issued lapel cameras which they are required to wear. Oddly, in several recent violent encounters with the public, the cameras were either not turned on, were not being worn, "malfunctioned," or couldn't be found after the incident. Cameras are a good idea, but their use MUST be enforced.

  66. The more the public presses the issue, the more light will be shed on their behavior and their EXCUSES.

  67. A camera might make for a more impartial witness instead of what happens out in the street, however something needs to be done about the draconian use of force in enforcing any and every little thing that happens out in the street.

  68. And that draconian use of force is not evenly applied across the social strata. How many whites in Freguson have an encounter with police that is precipitated by the offense of jaywalking?

  69. Let's look at it from the police point of view. They are all humans. When they first start off they are all wide eyed and busy tailed. Then after encounter after encounter with the dregs of society they start to turn callous and grow a thick skin. We all would. It does not help when a high percentage of the dregs they encounter are black. I am willing to bet that over 90% of all readers of the NYT, no matter what color or age, tense up when they see a group of black teenagers enter their subway car. This is due to previous negative experiences they had. Imagine if your job is to be in that type of environment 40 hours a week?

  70. So Ken, by your account it would be perfectly acceptable for me as a nurse to treat the poor and uninsured with less consideration and respect than a well to do person seeking care? Because after all, it is very depressing to see people continually turn up needing care for conditions that could easily be treated or prevented with good nutrition and hygiene and regularly taking prescribed medications, even if they cannot afford any of those things.

  71. A camera could have made all the difference in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson. It would have either confirmed the officer's version (backed by one key witness who said Brown "charged" before the final bullets were fired) or the versions of other witnesses who testified about a suspect in a surrendering pose ("hands up") before ultimately being gunned down. Had a video shown Brown coming at Wilson like a football player, would there have been the same level of protests and burning of buildings? Doubtful. And on the flip side: Had a video showed a man dying with his hands raised in surrender, would a grand jury has come to the same conclusion of no charges? Highly unlikely. Dead men tell no tales. But video could at minimum give a voice to them, whether they were justifiable homicides or fully violated and stripped of their civil rights.

  72. Your San Diego PD recently signed a five-year contract to use body cameras by a publicly-held company. Needless to say, their stock price has run up quite nicely.

  73. 1. Michael Brown physically attacked a store owner and stole merchandize and then attacked a Police Officer.
    2. Eric Garner resisted arrest.
    3. The young 12 year old boy who had been pointing a pellet gun that looked like a real gun, at people. (By the way a pellet gun is not a toy gun)
    4. I am sure there are other examples accross our nation.
    While the focus and spotlight rightly is on Police Departments across our nation, the one things that is missing in the debate is why did each of these individuals behave in a manner that would cause the Police to use lethal force. If you were in the Policeman shoes, what would you have done? In fact, if you were in the victims shoes would you have behaved in the same manner as the victims did toward the Police?
    All senseless deaths, that could have been avoided. Cameras won't change behavior of the Police Departments and Cameras won't change behavior of those that the Police Departments are called upon to confront.
    The problems that lay in the shadows and are not openly spoken of by the Police, the media for sure, nor the people living in high crime communities need to be discussed. I doubt that racism and poverty alone are the real reasons for the problems, even though those are the faviorite topics for placing blame. I believe it goes much, much. deeper than that. If it is'nt these two things then what could it be? An more importantly what are people living within the effected communities going to do about it?

  74. You can just feel this issue sliding over the cliff to the ridiculous. The winners here will be the body camera salesman and the politician that gets to pick the supplier.
    As long as the Police force is human, no matter what color, the best you can do is select personnel carefully, regardless of color, train well and instruct clearly. Maybe the Times should consider editorializing on the benefit to perpetrators of wearing their own body cameras while in the act.
    The sweeping generalizations Of Canadian neighbor B.A. below, reflect the exact problem he complains about. Most police don't do what the smear he writes claims. Just as most black citizens are not criminals.
    Humans were blessed with the power of inductive reasoning. It must be tempered with good judgement, however.

  75. One thing that will result from cops wearing cameras is the same thing that happened when they put cameras in police cars: convictions SKYROCKETED, from judges and juries seeing what it's really like being a cop and having to chase a car at high speed, having shots fired and bouncing off the windshield of the police car, having a gun pulled on a cop approaching a car, a cop having to do hand-to-hand himself...with two or more "people," and the criminals acting like sub-humans.

    If you complain about the prisons being filled now, wait until the personal cameras become the norm. There will be no doubt of the guilt.

    A great deal of cops are looking forward to getting them.

  76. This is America, the police lie and are not the only ones. Psychopaths are not people you can talk to rationally, and I'm not talking about police psychopaths but American psychopaths. We don't see your hands so you must be doing something else that a psychopath is telling us, even thought you were turning around. True that for about 3 seconds we did not see your hands but what about the 57 others seconds. We don't like you and have no use for the truth.

  77. This article is based on a false premise. There is no safeguard of truth. Cameras will not solve the problem but they will be huge step forward. Of course there will remain ambiguous cases but that it not a reason to delay or stop cameras. Instead, that is a reason to ALSO implement other methods, such as training. This article is a sad rare example of purple journalism at the NYT.

  78. It doesn't matter. We have witnessed several police executions this past year that were broadcast all over the media. The cops still killed and got away with it, even with the video. That's the way things work in a police state. Welcome to police state America.

  79. "In the beating of Mr. King, the Los Angeles officers involved were acquitted despite a video, shot by a nearby resident, showing them repeatedly kicking and hitting him with batons."

    What the NYT does not see fit to explain here is that the jurors were shown the ENTIRE video, which included Mr. King violently resisting arrest, while the media decided to edit out the beginning of of the video on the grounds it was "too blurry" so all the public saw was the one-sided violence of the end, without Rodney King's initial behavior. If the public had seen the whole video (which was given to the tv station), the verdict would have seemed less surprising and perhaps the riot could have been avoided. Likewise, in the case of Eric Garner, the jury saw the complete video (14 min?), not the edited version that circulated online. That may have played a role in the discrepancy between public expectation and the actual GJ decision.

  80. It is true that videos are imperfect. And they can be manipulated such as those that go viral but show only part of an encounter--often the most violent part without context or showing the provocation,or lack of one.

    Relate it to the much less serious world of sports: video replay does not always yield clear resolution so, in the baseball lingo, the call on the field stands. Nevertheless, some would argue replay has improved baseball decisional accuracy.

    Back to the more serious world of interaction between community and police: The public must be educated that video cameras will not themselves be arbiters; they can only supply evidence-imperfect--on which evaluations of actions can be based.

    Just as it it not true that the still camera never lies and that photos can be and are manipulated, the possibility of video manipulation exists. But with ground rules and due process for cops and the public, video cameras are worth a try.

    But, they will not be sufficient to change a culture or a toxic relationship and fear and suspicion on all sides. That involves hard work and police retraining. But, it must be remembered that many encounters with police, because of the the realities with which police deal, are going to be obscenity-filled and physical. Cops are not always dealing with polite society and innocent, well-intentioned citizens. It's not pretty in some places they are forced to police. Maybe video will enable the public to see that.

    It is worth testing.

  81. With the coming new rules on cameras and racial profiling, police would not have been allowed to stop 4 black teenagers walking the STL streets at 1am carrying hammers, right before they killed a white man with their hammers. However their precious rights would have been protected.

  82. The answer to the millennial question of who watches the watchers is "nobody."

  83. I'm reminded of the old vaudeville joke about the man who, surprised by his wife in an act of adultery, exclaims, "Who are you going to believe - me, or your own eyes?"

    Except that, when applied to what are to anyone else's eyes, the murders of innocent civilians, the joke isn't funny, and it's on us.

  84. If cameras show police brutality they will become necessary. If cameras show the black victim at fault, then their use will be considered to be another racist, fascist, oppressive use of technology that should be banned (without prior written approval and a judges order).

  85. "“I expect everything to be filmed,” he said the officer told the grand jury."

    ...and that will mean it is subjected to FOIA requests, such that any contact with the Police can be considered "Published to YouTube."

    This knowledge will change at least my own personal view of what I say, or don't, to the Police.

  86. The Eric Garner case proves that the judicial process is so corrupt that even in the face of undeniable video evidence, along with manipulation of the grand jury process, cops who are guilty of murder will not be convicted. So much for body cameras. The system for trying questionable law enforcement killings must be changed.

  87. Unfortunately, maybe one way to reduce the increasing madness of White cops Killing unarmed Black males, is to assign White cops to predominantly White neighborhoods and African American cops to Black neighborhoods. This may end this trigger happy string.

  88. This, summary stats from 2013 published by the NYPD is well worth reading. MIT does not address the issue of body cameras or the actions of police vs. public per se but there is some interesting data on arrests, race of suspect, race of complainant. It is summary data not one on one but is interesting.

  89. In my former home town the local police department was plagued by brutality lawsuits. They installed cameras all throughout police headquarters. This seemed to stop the brutality reports temporarily. The police officers found blind spots in the building to beat civilians and was also caught outside by someone with a phone camera.
    We need a Federal Law that allows anyone legally to record government employees in their work (all 50 states),and post it publicly. Heavy fines and job loss if a government employee or contractor tries to stop you. Public Transparency.

  90. These new cameras, you know, are gonna get us a lot of swell pictures of the sky and cops' necks.

  91. Mandatory operating body cameras are a start. But the Rodney King and Garner cases show that they are only a start. Anyone who saw the "experts" testifying in the King case that the continued beating was justified by the twitches of King's body as he lay on the ground while the beating was going on will understand that a white jury, with their known and unknown bias, can be convinced that they are not seeing what they are seeing when white cops mercilessly beat a helpless black man. In the Garner case, the whole incident was recorded for everyone to see and there wasn't even a trial because a corrupt and conflicted District Attorney did not even try to get an indictment in the secret Grand Jury proceedings. I doubt that cameras would have made any difference in the Michael Brown killing either, since the prosecutors made no effort to get an indictment and even went so far as to present as the law to be followed a statute to the Grand Jury that said that an officer can shoot a fleeing suspect, when that statute had been declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court decades before. Weeks later, the prosecutors told the Grand Jury that there was something wrong with the law, but never explained that it had long ago been declared unconstitutional. What kind of prosecutor makes a mistake like that? One who has no interest in an indictment or justice.

  92. America has begun to notice that it is on a totalitarian path. The second gilded age can only be made safe for the plutocrats through the use of violence. Militarization of police is an early step in this journey. Once there are videos, they can be suppressed and in time, altered. Reality is defined by those in power in a totalitarian state. Yes, we are well on the way.

  93. Racism is in the hearts and minds of these cops who killed these unarmed Black males. Beyond cultural sensitivity training, psychological training geared towards ridding racist attitudes should be mandatory. Changes in physical tactics is one aspect of policing. However, before an officer needlessly takes the life of an unarmed citizen, there must be a predatory mindset. Its ugly, but its the truth.

  94. Fascinating how you are inside the hearts and minds of people you have never met and at situations you did not witness. Comments like this criticize alleged racist orientations yet don't realize the utter bias of their own view even without any evidence to support it.

  95. George, these cops are not killing out of kindness. The undeniable pattern of White cops murdering Black men is real. Your comment is typical of those who seek to protect the status quo - first deny that racism exist.

  96. Bellstar - I don't deny that SOME racism exists, but you seem to believe that it is THE reason for all such shootings, particularly the two in question here. And there simply is no proof whatsoever of that - it's an assumption made by people who just assume that all cops (well, white ones, at any rate) are total racists and will murder black men on a whim. Sorry, not buying it.

  97. They are not supposed to "prevent police brutality", but to offer a more objective testimony of the events.

  98. I recently watched video of a man being swarmed by NYPD, with one officer bringing the very large black man at the center of the swarm to the ground with a chokehold. The man died of the chokehold. The police video was watched. Apparently no one saw the murder on video that I did.
    Lesson: body cameras may be a tool. But, not necessarily a solution.

  99. I say body cameras for everybody. Why should only the police have them, not fair. I want to capture my interactions with the police from my body. The police cannot be trusted to turn on their cameras, so I need to have one for my self. I will agree to turn it off when I am having sex, after all there must be some privacy. I have written to O so he may provide it quickly, you don't know what evil needs to be captured. Once I have mine, I will open a business called 'capture' so I can share. Think about it, all the citizens and illegals assuming the role of 'big brother/sister'. The brave new world is here. Don't leave home without your camera.

  100. We saw that with the Eric Garner killing. This travesty was caught on camera and the prosecutor chose to act as the defense lawyer for the police and not as a prosecutor, a job he is paid to do. he should be fired, because one one trusts him or his office any more, except the police. He is an advocate for the police.

  101. The fact that video recordings are not "perfect," in the sense that people might have different interpretations of the same video evidence, is no reason not to adopt universal body-cams for patrol officers. The question is not whether they are perfect but whether they will improve police/civilian interactions and the answer is obviously yes, by encouraging policemen to behave professionally and courteously, by discouraging civilians from bring frivolous complaints, and by providing better evidence than any other source when a dispute does arise. The fact that some policemen might still behave poorly, or some civilians might file unfounded complaints is irrelevant.

  102. Your report does not mention the statistics about current studies on the effect police body cameras have on police behavior. But the ones I've seen show that there is a precipitous drop in incidents like those that have outraged America.
    It's obvious that video is a valuable aid in determining the truth in confrontations like these. The competing "narratives" about what happened in the Michael Brown case is a clear example of this. The convenience store assault and robbery, on video, belie the view that this was a "gentle giant", a "teddy bear", and show him to be an out of control thug. But the lack of video at the confrontation with the police allows completely different narratives to be put forth.
    The video in Mr. Garner's case offers a fairly complete, and brutally accurate picture of what actually happened. And although not enough to get an indictment of the officer, it was enough to send hundreds of thousands of Americans of all colors to the street, protesting an outrageous miscarriage of justice. Video alone made that difference.
    The most important limitation of body cameras that I see is the limitations of running time on current devices. The camera should be on and running for the officer's full shift, without the ability to stop and start. No one should be allowed to pre-edit the "narrative".

  103. Americans believe in violence. We would rather spend billions of dollars on guns and ammunition to protect ourselves from criminals than to spend money on social programs and enact laws supporting equal opportunity. We also believe in national, racial, gender and religious exceptionalism. America is better than other countries, whites are better than blacks, men are better than women, and Christianity is better than other religions. Our police departments and the laws they enforce can do no more than reflect those beliefs.

    Our beliefs and our actions are mocking the principles on which our country was founded and which we still espouse. It is a dichotomy that is tearing us apart.

    We should equip all of our armed police officers with body cameras. We also should be aware that our response to any illegal violence they reveal could either be outrage and remediation or a rush to make their actions legal.

  104. >

    Cameras may or may not prevent violent encounters, but cameras will certainly provide more substantative evidence as to the facts of the encounters, which are now usually generated by the police. If the cops do not want them, then they are probably a good thing.

  105. Not sure what body cameras will actually do, but the one thing I am 100% sure they will not do is solve any of the problems that have caused young black men to be involved in destructive behavior in poor communities that leads to interactions with the police. Is there a politician with the guts to address this issue?

  106. The Mayor's Office will get back to you on that - as soon as Al Sharpton tells him what to say.

  107. The same thing can be said about the problem of the propensity of so many poor uneducated young white baby daddy to engage in the destructive criminal behavior that leads to so many encounters with the police including illegal drug dealing and use and possession, robbery and homicide among their fellow white men.

    There are way more white men in that category and who are arrested every year as compared to Blacks.

    Crime in America is typically within the same socioeconomic ethnic sectarian racial geographic group.

    Americans mainly kill and victimize other Americans.

    Is there a white politician who has the guts to address their own white supremacist colored-blindness when it comes to crime in their own community?

    No camera is colored blind to American racial history. Nor is any camera blind to American socioeconomic educational political plutocrat privilege.

  108. Amen. Do not think body cameras will prevent black men from killing other black men.

  109. Why don't we stop hiding from the "inconvenient" truth that cops in this country can abuse, harass and even shoot black people and other minorities with impunity. It happens day in, day out, in every major (and not so major) city and town.

    To claim this isn't the case or to "troll generalize" it to "everyone being affected" is to be wholly ignorant or to be willfully lying.

  110. The best way to get back at the police is to live within the law. That way the will pretty much ignore you. If you are home is bed at a reasonable hour your chances of an encounter with the police is lessened. If you are a sober person and smoking dope you will have a better chance of being ignored by the fuzz.

    I live a lawful and quiet life and have never had any reason to fear the police. I got a ticket for 62 in a 55 one time but I paid it off because I was as guilty as sin. The young police officer was quite pleasant as I recall.

    Live an upright life and your chances of pleasant relations with the police is better. On the other hand gangbangers are going to be profiled by the police so stay away from gangbanging.

  111. Not true in today's America. May I refer you to the 2010 off easily found on the internet "Policing for Profit" by the Institute for Justice.
    The asset forfeiture laws in place today across our country directly contradict your posit that if you follow the law you wont be subject to police misconduct. Beware your attitude that they can't come for you...they are at your doorstep already you mistakenly believe you are outside this issue

  112. Mayor De Blasio is biased against his own NYPD. The cameras simply placate the black community and does little for it. Spend much more money on screening and hiring Police Officers and more so on their training thereafter, for a more effective decision making officer when on duty. The Mayor should be making every effort to work with the black community to demonstrate that this city must not view every incident as black/white. Whites commit crimes and are victims of crimes too - let's change the conversation to individuals who are crime victims of others - nothing is white/black/yellow/brown unless you want it to be.

  113. Photographs and video describe.
    They do not explain.

  114. This is a "no brainier." These are "Civil Servants." Our tax dollars pay for their services. If we have the "Technology," "Logistics" and “Oversight,” then making it mandatory for all "Civil Servants," serving in the capacity as, "On Duty Field" Law Enforcement Officers must wear HD video/audio recording equipment. Why????
    “Motivational Accountability…”

    There’s no debate or discussion here people. “Public Law Enforcement” is not protected under “Corporate, or Private Laws.” Ultimately, they have “Accountability” to every citizen that’s votes pays taxes, in every Town, City & State in the United States.

    And please, no whining about “Invasion of Privacy," or "Where do u wear such a device?" To those people I suggest watching, at least, 1 episode of “Cops” on TV. The focus here should not be on “the problems.” Rather, “only solutions.”

    Remember, living peacefully together is essential to all Humanity,

    Richard M Leeds

  115. Why would the officers have the ability to turn them off? It defeats the purpose. There should be a way for them to be activated when the shift begins, but only turned off by the people working the equipment room at the end of the shift.

    Or, to prevent tampering with recorded footage, turned into an in-department, third party department which uploads the footage for internal review and storage.

  116. Would you want to be recorded during every second at work? While eating lunch? Chatting during that meal with co-workers? While taking a break and speaking with your spouse on the phone (the cameras record sound too)? While using the rest room?

    Public employees yes, but they still are not public property. The cameras should only be reasonably used to record actual duty related conduct.

  117. As the article noted, violation of department policy for not using the camera resulted in firings. That's an incentive in my book.

  118. The critics are complaning because it's not perfect. Nothing's perfect, but this should be a big help in most cases.
    If the police are as well behaved as they claim wouldn't they want this?

  119. Based on the now millions of Americans who feel white police officers are the cause of urban unrest, can we expect tens of thousands of the younger critics to step up and become police officers and become the knights in shining armor?

    I doubt it.

    Progressives, for all their lofty proclamations, are inherently elitist when it comes to issues such as this. Police work is beneath the overwhelming number of progressives. It would force them to re-think their assumptions about human nature.

  120. Sad day when "police explain what you see on video" and this is what you come up with: you see a Black man getting murdered by being choked to death for selling loose cigarettes and a grand jury thinking that's ok.

    How did the officer explain that? Something like "I didn't mean to kill him." Really? Then what was the intention? Nothing was done to help him from something that should not have been done in the first place: choke hold.

    Supposedly reasonable people, the grand jury, allow this tactic, the explaining-the-video-tactic in the officer's opinion, to be the justice of it all.

    The police unions, too, have just gone down a few notches too. If this is the behavior they uphold, the public will never support them, because those unions are just another farce.

    We almost have to agree - what good would police cameras be?
    Sad day when we have to agree with that premise.

  121. Even better than cameras would be a culture that does not tolerate police violence rather than one that is as mealy mouthed about it as we are being even now. It's not a race issue. It is a class issue and a messaging issue. Twice as many whites as blacks are killed and it is in direct proportion to their poverty ratios. It is downright uncanny. What's frightening and telling is that several poor young white males were killed even more egregiously by police in recent months and no one bats an eye. Why? Because we don't care about police violence, we just don't want to feel racist about it. Consider the last time a black professor, attorney, mayor, doctor, engineer, actor, etc was gunned down by cops. This is a class problem and the cops are killing because you want them to.

  122. Perhaps all the people serving on the Grand Jury should be identified then they may be able to reach an un bias decision.

    Did you know that Officer Wilson was fired by the City of Jennings along with the entire Jennings Police Department for racist practices and use of excessive force?
    Ferguson then hired Wilson! Let us now wonder if Ferguson hired all of the other fired officers too?

  123. Members of a Grand Jury are not identified specifically to shield them from outside or undue influence or tampering, lessening the chance that they will be swayed by matters not directly related to the charges before them.

  124. Cameras will likely show more than just the most dramatic parts of an encounter. The Garner video started after the police had exhausted all other attempts to arrest him. The same can be said of Rodney King - the record button was pushed at the end of the incident, not the beginning. When the King jury heard the whole story they acquitted. When the Pantaleo grand jury heard the whole story they could not in good conscience move to indict. The actions of those juries seem ludicrous to many people who viewed the videos, yet those people do not recognize that they did not witness the entire event, they only saw the end. Cameras might give more people a broader perspective, what a jury or grand jury gets to hear. Then when it is explained to them in legal terms, perhaps they won't jump so quickly to conclusions and protest in the streets or loot and burn.

  125. People who think it's okay to use physical violence and deface property might do that anyway for some other reason. But I do agree that it would have been helpful to see the whole thing. Only if we see how nuanced the problem is, can we change the system.

    I am sure there are many police who see these things happen and feel their hearts sink. When I was a young woman, an older friends said to me, men become gynecologists for two reasons: to control, or to help women. I see no difference, except that police are wearing guns. We need to be more discerning about who becomes a police officer, and how fast we let them go if they become problems. I do not believe that anyone from within the force can make this decision, as being within a group that faces life and death regularly can make people too attached to each other. We are not in war - this is working with civilians (no matter how violent or foul-mouthed, it's still not war).

  126. The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police. The number of people in uniform who will knowingly and maliciously violate your human rights is huge.

    Where there is no confidence there is no obedience.

    Simple answer. Make them accountable by the same system that judges everyone else.
    Also, no more police unions.
    (Does anyone else thing that whenever the union attorney, Lynch, opens his mouth he sounds uneven? As "off the wall" as NRA preident Lapierre.

    He speaks for you guys? "Daniel Pantaleo is a model offier" ???

  127. Did you read the article? Police resigned or fired because they didn't use the camera assigned to them. That's accountability.

  128. We don't need cameras on policemen so we can "police the police". What is required is policemen who don't need to be policed. They would be public servants that know, believe, and promote the idea that everyone alive in their jurisdictions are "members of the public" they serve. They need to feel that the 'community of police persons' doesn't exist for the benefit of the police. They need to be "involved in mankind" and willing to serve. It is a quality of character coupled to a sense of honor, a sense of equality with he public and not a sense of superiority. Put plainly, we need moral, honest, public servants. The question is then,:"How do we get moral, honest,public servants?" You pay them better and have them work together toward that goal. And you punish, shame, and fire those who refuse to believe and act as if they are not 'special people', just like prosecutors, judges, and whole legal community doesn't look down their noses at the police. Oh, I forgot, they do look down their noses. Well, there has to be "rank". People who are classified, judged and pinned on the wall of inferiority, rebel against those who degrade them. We must give respect and get respect, but we must also hold everyone, everyone, to the legal standards of equality before the law, due process of law, and responsibility for their actions. The police don't generally do this with the public and the public rarely does that with the police. We're all in this TOGETHER or we promote anarchy.

  129. Expecting that all police will display only their very best sides every moment of every day is unrealistic and dangerous. They are human just like us and likely run the gamut of moral rectitude and professional judgement abilities. I would feel much better thinking that the police force would have some idea that Officer Doe lacks willpower and can get him off the street for retraining, discipline or firing before he does something really stupid. Cameras could go a long way towards that.

  130. What about the increase in laws that aim to prevent or outlaw civilians taking videos of police activity? I would like to read more about that and the legal rationale that attempts to justify such laws.

  131. Which laws are you referring to? It has been held that anyone can take videos of anyone, including the police, in a public place. Of course, that means they can video you in public as well. It is true that in some cases police have tried to stop people from taking picture but there is no legal authority - i.e., no law - to support that and courts have ruled accordingly.

  132. I was under the impression that some municipalities were still trying to preclude it. Thanks!

  133. I haven't had a positive encounter with the police in seven years. The relationship of taxpayer/ neighbor/ fellow American is gone and the new relationship if rife with menacing threat. Submit to whatever the officer throws at you and you may walk away with your life. It seems being an officer of the law is no longer enough for them. They are town and city soldiers now, charged with a power from on high the likes of which you will do well not to ignite.

  134. Yes this had become prevalent since 9/11. Every village cop ( as well as TSA/ICE/BP line personnel) had become a "soldier in the war on terror" with extraordinary powers whose actions are not to be questioned.

  135. In spite of the damnable decision of the Grand Jury, in the Eric Garner case, cameras should be universal. The pubic wants a record of police activities, or know the reason why not.

  136. My sympathies generally lie with the police BUT in the recent cases.
    Mr Brown a poor symbol but just simply the final straw against overly aggressive policing.
    Mr Garner no matter what occured during the scuffle, the inaction when it was obvious he was in distress was inexcusable.
    And finally a boy shot 2 SECONDS after the police arrival.
    Police should just be on camera all the time it will protect good policing and drum out the bad.

  137. If I were a black man stopped by a white policeman, I think and my parents think that I would be likely to be treated better if the policeman was wearing a body camera. If I was then shot dead, without a camera, who could speak for dead black me.

  138. The police cameras will be become a defense lawyers nightmare. There were about 420 police inflicted homicides a year, but police made 12,196,959 arrests, so only about 0.003 percent of arrests result in police inflicted homicides and only a small percent of the 0.003 percent are truly controversial. However, the body cameras will provide hard to refute evidence against millions of defendants. They will also document tens of thousands of people resisting arrest.

  139. Incriminating footage will be highly controversial. Expect "privacy" issues to be raised for this very reason.

    No longer will selective clips, as was the case with Mr. Garner's, which failed to show the extent to which he was resisting arrest, be possible to influence public opinion. It will all be there.

    Maybe it's time for everyone to see what cops are dealing with on a daily basis. I suspect many people will be surprised. It can be an eye-opener.

  140. "No longer will selective clips, as was the case with Mr. Garner's, which failed to show the extent to which he was resisting arrest, be possible to influence public opinion. It will all be there."

    Ultimately, perhaps, but I don't trust much of the media and certainly not "activists" to not selectively edit such tapes to show the public in order to maintain their narrative, claiming, when caught at it, that the deleted parts aren't "relevant".

  141. Actually, the Garner video show Garner backing Officer Daniel Panteleo against a storefront window. This backs up the officer's claim that he feared he was about to be seriously injured. The officer also claims he started off applying a headlock but that his hands slip down to Garner necks when Garner reared back and almost pushed him through the window.

  142. Context matters when people interpret events to extract meaning. This lesson was appreciated after attending a Sunday morning movie club at the Charles theater in Baltimore for many Sundays. After the viewing, the discussion periods would draw such numerous interpretations that amazed me not simply in their variety, but in their legitimacy to that viewers particular perspective. Each individual brought with them a unique experience and applied a unique filter to their appreciation of the film. Often, I would recognize in myself, that whatever concerns my mind was attending to in my life, I was unconsciously and automatically seeking the solution for in the film.

    Sometimes I have dealt with patients who speak in a loud, angry, intense manner. Asked politely to lower their voices, sometimes they refuse saying "I can't help it! That's just how I talk." In their distrust, frustration, hostility, and demanding way, they fail to recognize the choices they have or the where-with-all to adjust other elements of their communication to achieving an optimal effect. Hostility can achieve the immediate short term goal of having people back away, but it's long term effect is often fear and not true respect. Volume & prosody creates a context to the listener beyond the terms intended meaning. It does not acknowledge the listener's autonomy or evoke thoughtful understanding. Likewise, gestures, postures, expressions, personal space, or individual size affect our interpretation.

  143. $75 million dollars, for 50,000 body cameras, for 50 states? 35,000 NYPD officers, 8 million New Yorkers. 1 death by chokehold filmed, no indictment. Not much adds up these days.

  144. Body cameras and elimination of racial profiling are two great starts.

    We definitely need police being less proactive. The crime rate will drop accordingly.

  145. What are you basing this brilliant theory on? How does less police influence result in less crime, exactly?

  146. ????"..... an officer was fired after his camera captured him in repeated instances of profanity, verbal abuse and threats against CIVILIANS."

    When did police become soldiers??

  147. The military industrial complex is the prison industrial complex too. Look to see how many law enforcement officials are vets or reserves.

  148. All parties will be better served with the use of body cameras, than without them.

  149. In the aftermath of these incidents, I've read and heard news stories that the police actually support the body camera idea.
    I think it's too bad, actually. I feel like it will just drive a deeper wedge between law enforcement and their community. It seems like going in the other direction would have better results. Find a mediator - a DMZ - maybe the neighborhood church or community center - where the citizens can meet with their beat cops - regularly. Meeting face to face in the absence of confrontation would presumably help to build a rapport. Maybe officers could spend the first hour of each shift walking a neighborhood block and knocking on each door, say hello, shake hands, meet people; not to scope out a home for criminal activity, but to connect and to say I'm here if you need me.

  150. Body cameras are only part of the solution. 1-Automatic suspension without pay for failure to have camera running at all times when on duty. 2- urine samples at the start of every shift to weed out the steriod and drug users on the force. 3- the repeal of the asset forfeiture laws which encourage police misconduct. ("Policing for Profit"-2010 Institute for Justice study is a must read on this issue) 4- finally and most importantly--- the creation of a pool of independent prosecutors who are not local to handle police abuse cases. Recent examples in Ferguson and New York etal
    Reveal a lack of will for local prosecutors to indict one of their own.
    And for those who mistakenly believe that being a law abiding citizen frees them from worry that they would ever be subject to police misconduct you are sadly misinformed. Its all too easy to believe these issues are far removed from ordinary citizens lives. They are not.
    The adage " they came for ...and I did not speak up...then they came for me" comes to mind.

  151. To beat back what we see as the animal in the fearsome "other," we enable our protectors to act like animals themselves. Gotta kill someone because they're big, black and don't immediately submit to the white guy with the gun and badge? Well, go for it.

    I guess that's why weapons and wars and prisons and police are everywhere we look.

    Ugh, humankind --- still acting like animals.

  152. Our President Obama should issue an Executive Order regarding this unacceptable police aggression and violence on black men.

    It is clearly unacceptable in today's world.

    Obama should sign an EO immediately, stating any officer shooting a black man will be immediately suspended without pay.

  153. So, if an officer is being shot at, he needs to determine the color of the shooter before firing back? Also, are we going with the Old South definition that one drop of black blood makes an individual black? If not, what percentage of black would be required for this prohibition to kick in?

    I have heard racist rants in the NYT before, but this idea may be one of the most egregious examples of racial profiling yet.

  154. He's a troll Mike. He's just here to get you. And he did.

  155. Not to mention that any EO wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on...what would it say, precisely? And how would it address the fact that the president has exactly zero authority over state and local law enforcement officers?

  156. Given the size of memory today, the question of when to turn on the camera could be moot. Eight hours of video could be stored on a single chip, so the camera should be turned on at the start of a shift, and not turned off until the end. That way, there can be no Watergate moments, no selective recording, and a full record of all interactions would be available. Further, it should be mandated that these chips be kept for at least a week under normal circumstances, and any shift in which there have been any significant (i.e. violent) civilian interactions should be kept longer.

  157. Taster International's camera can record for 12 hours. Their camera has been winning contracts all over the country. I'm surprised NYPD is considering Vievu's camera.

  158. It won't be perfect. Is there anything that is? If only one less person is murdered, abused, beaten, incarcerated because of what we see on the cameras, I'm for it. It is also possible if more people see the hell world that some policemen live in, they will understand why sometimes they panic or make the wrong decision.

    Recent events have shown us that something definitely needs to change. Just saying cameras won't be the magic bullet is silly. It will take a long time, many changes, and lots of effort to change the culture that has grown in our police and legal system. If we can't see what's going on, there is no way we figure out how to make it better.

  159. In Rialto, Calif.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Phoenix, the use of force and civilian complaints against officers when they wore cameras decreased. But Mr. White cautioned: “We have no idea what the dynamics are that are leading to those reductions.”

    Civilians can no longer Lie regarding what happened.

  160. Perhaps police body cameras should be like drones, controlled remotely with the video stored in a secure location.

  161. Good article, I'm not certain that body cameras will actually work but i think that it gives the minorities who do not have "white privilege" a piece of mind. even if it is not a whole one. if officers have access to the cameras videos and the power to turn them off and on then they still have control and the people that feel unsafe will continue to feel that way. there was a camera recording garner the whole time and there was still no indictment in his case. other cases show abuse to both the jury and judge on behalf of officers but they still get away because the jurors and judge "feel bad for the officers". Great information but body cameras are a waste of money, yes some officers will change some of their ways but when something else goes down they will most likely just end up getting off the hook like the rest.

  162. The rate at which people are prosecuted for perjury is very low. Body cameras would help insure that perjury on the part of defendants, and police will diminish. Police are generally viewed as being credible, so a policeman testifying under oath can usually get away with saying things that will reduce the amount of time he has to spend in court, or insure a conviction.
    I've seen police administering street justice on several occasions. Body cameras would certainly help to increase reliance on the court system rather than one officer's sense of righteousness.

  163. Video? The Eric Garner "chokehold" was on video. The D.A. as in Ferguson can spoil the process just by the way it's presented. Then say " the Grand Jury has ruled" absolving themselves of any responsibility of the result, when any legal novice knows better.
    Overall Whites don't get the anger , pain, and despair they see in the form of "rioting". They didn't in the 60's. Once the Civil Rights Bill passed Whites believed that Blacks should be happy. Whites : "what's wrong now, they have their rights ", arrogantly said. Forgetting the conditions Blacks were under didn't happen overnight. That law and policy was the bedrock of "racism". That attitudes ran so deep many were unaware of their biases.
    Today as then, Whites say "there is a Black President, voted in by a contingent of Whites. Certainly it isn't as bad as it use to be " , sounds familiar?
    Whites shouldn't question why there is an "angry Black man", the denial of his manhood, humanity, and freedom has been calcified for generations by the White social construct.
    Police or White men in general derive from a culture that supposes they are superior. It was done to the Natives as well, dehumanization
    Before some Whites say "we all need to examine stuff", it is incumbent upon them to first know the complete history. The preponderance of weight falls in their laps. Blacks, notwithstanding what's in the media, work vigilantly to rid dysfunction within the Black community...

  164. Mr. White, the dynamics of body cameras are that everyone is on their best behaviors when being filmed. It looks like it is three for three (on the studies) for decreased use of force and civilian complaints (at $20,000 each for police resources and legal fees) and better utilization of officers (reduced number of officers needed for internal investigations, leading to two officers being reassigned to more meaningful duties) for a total benefit/cost ratio of nearly 8:1 (Rialto, CA study). To the New York City finance director: this is how the city SAVES MONEY!

  165. Self-preservation is frequently the cause of police brutality, and self-preservation is the reason for the lies police tell to cover up their brutality and incompetence. The police will always look for a way to bury the truth along with their victims, by sabotaging the effectiveness of any technology meant to help protect the citizenry.