In the post-Ferguson world, legislatures are looking at ways to increase public trust in the police, increase the transparency and accountability of police conduct, and more accurately document police-public encounters, protecting the public against police misconduct, and helping protect police against false accusations of abuse.
And, to be frank, to clearly record and hopefully prevent incidents like the one in Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed teenager is shot and killed by police and differing accounts emerge. The thinking, by advocates, and by the makers of cameras already installed on many police dashboards across the country, is to get the story straight.
Senator Shirley Turner plas to propose legislation requiring police officers statewide to be equipped with body cameras. I think that’s an idea worth considering and I hope to see support from both Democrats and Republicans for this good government idea.
That said, I want to call to Sen. Turner’s attention, if she’s not already aware, that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has worked up some guidelines for how that should be done that I think are worth her considering. And that is particularly because they come from ACLU, which has a history of opposing undue government surveillance. That as a baseline, their support of police body-cams, make their policy suggestions valuable. These include guidelines for protecting the pubic against unreasonable invasion of privacy, preventing evidence from being edited to misguide how recordings should be used, and how long retained.
Here, in greater detail than I should summarize, are ACLU’s policy proposals for effective use of police body cams. I’ll be sending this to Sen. Turner’s office. I hope police chiefs and local municipal officials also give it a read.