THE SYSTEM WHICH IS UNDER SCRUTINY GETS TO SET THE PARAMETERS FOR THAT SCRUTINY….
The Police work for you .
You pay their salaries. You provide the pension plans and health-care for them and their families.
You pay for the precinct houses from which they operate. You pay for the cars they drive. You pay for the dash-cam videos in cases where they are provided them.
Yet even though you pay for all of it, you are not entitled to see what is on the video when the videos have information which will show police officers doing what they shouldn’t be doing to citizens like you, if North Carolina Republican legislators and Governor Pat McCrory have their way.
Come October 1st citizens in the state of North Carolina will be required to get a court order to see dash-cam videos.
What does police have to hide? Why are politicians colluding with police to cover up wrong doing?
The unlawful killing and abuse of black citizens by some police officers have been a sore issue forever . Despite the protestations of black and brown people, white people who control power have largely ignored their cries for justice or have simply remained silent.
Some have argued that whites largely remain silent because of racist tendencies, also that they are served by the status quo. Others have argued that whites see police in a different light because they are policed differently and most cops are white,.
The latter view tends to support the arguments of people of color, that there are two separate justice systems , one for whites and another for everyone else.
Taxpayers investment in body and dashcams were supposed to either hold police accountable or exonerate them when they act appropriately. What the police are now doing through their unions and politicians beholden to them, is to make a determination when or if the footage is released at all.
That means the very unjust system which is under scrutiny gets to set the parameters for that scrutiny.
For those of us who believed that equipping police cruisers with dash-cams and officers with body cameras would go a long way in removing most of the ambiguity from cases where police version of events differ from that of the public, we may need to rethink those beliefs.
What bothers me is why on earth would police department’s push for measures which invariably will lead to more conflict with the public they serve.
Republican governor Pat McCrory said the law will strike a balance between improving public trust in the police and respecting the rights of officers.
Respecting the rights of officers?
Officers operate in public spaces supposedly on behalf of the public. What conceivable right could police have abridged by the release of videos of their actions ?
The answer is none !
It is a red herring designed to give police one more layer of cover to continue to brutalize and kill people of color without being held accountable.
If this is allowed to stand the next step will be to make it a crime to film illegal behavior of police.
More and more states will follow North Carolina’s lead in making it impossible for police crimes to be uncovered when police get to determine whether the public have a right to see whether they broke the law.
This only makes sense in a parallel universe. The longer police agencies get to hold video footage the less likely it is that the public trust what they eventually release. The more that happens the less trust and confidence large swaths of the public have in the police. The longer the police hold video footage the more likely it is that those footage will be tampered with and altered to support the police version of events. There is nothing democratic or transparent about this. It is a slow steady march toward a police state in which the public has no say.
As a former police officer I am not naive to the claims that releasing videos to the public may compromise aspects of an investigation. I am also mindful that evidence in certain video recordings may inflame passions and lead to violence or more violence in cases where violent protest has already occurred.
Nevertheless when the totality of the distrust of police is taken into consideration, the police make a critical tactical mistake in not appearing to be transparent.
I have long maintained that demonstrating against police is counter productive. Cops do not make laws , going into the streets may have some emotional value but beyond that it yields precious little substantively.
The fact is that a large section of the population care exponentially more about broken glass than it does bullet riddled bodies. On that basis marching and protesting has zero effect in changing attitudes.
If marching and singing was going to change circumstances they would have changed in the over half a century since the beginning of the civil rights movement.
The seminal issue affecting the African-American Community when Dr King lived was police abuse. Over the half a century since Dr King was murdered the seminal issue affecting African-Americans is not poverty , or lack of jobs as some so called black leaders would have you believe, it is police abuse.
There is a reason black and brown people do not trust the police , there are decades and decades of reasons for them not to.
When police get to decide whether video footages are released to the public which pays them, and pay for the video it reveals an intrinsic sick system of the tail wagging the Dog.
♦Laquan Mcdonald was killed walking away from Chicago police, the police refused to release the footage until they were forced to. The eventual release of the video showed that Mcdonald was summarily executed as he walked away , nevertheless cops on the scene lied that he posed a threat which necessitated them using deadly force.
It was basically an assassination.
♦Walter Scott was summarily executed In North Charleston, South Carolina as he ran away from a police officer, a civilian video revealed that the cop placed a taser beside the body of mister Scott with the intended value of arguing Scott attempted to use it on him.
♦ Samuel Dubose was murdered in Cincinnati Ohio . The police contended that mister Dubose attempted to run him over with his car. Video evidence however showed that the officer lied that Dubose posed a threat . Importantly as well , other officers on scene corroborated the lie of the cop who murdered mister Dubose,
So much for only a few bad apples.
♦Donald Andrews who operated a smoke shop in Schenectady New York became a target of police in that city for no reason but that he was a black man operating a smoke shop.
Police routinely staked out his store and would routinely enter the store as part of their surveillance. On one occasion one of the officers was captured on mister Andrews surveillance video, planting crack cocaine on the counter. Not only was that officer criminal he was stupid, it defies logic that anyone would believe that a person selling crack cocaine would have it on the counter like candy.
According to experts mister Andrews could have received four years for that bit of crack cocaine.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University Professor and founder of the Your Black World Coalition at the time said that this case is reflective of the slippery slope that exists for black men when it comes to the criminal justice system.
“If this is the case where the officer got caught planting the drugs, what about all the thousands of other cases where the officer wasn’t stupid enough to do it in a room full of cameras,” says Dr. Watkins. “The truth is that these incidents are not anomalies, and are reflective of the corruption that exists in a system that has found black men to be lucrative commodities for the prison industrial complex. It has destroyed our families and must be confronted in its entirety.” If police testimony is always valued above and beyond the defendant’s, how often do you think this happens? With black men being arrested for drug distribution more than any other group of people, it probably happens more than you know.
For years people of color in city after city across America have complained about police framing them and falsifying reports sending innocent people away for years on end sometimes for life.
The innocence project founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, mission statement says it is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.
Through Messers Scheck and Neufeld and their team’s effort to date 344 innocent individuals have been exonerated after serving lengthy periods of time in prison for crimes they did not commit.
In some cases individuals have served over three decades in prison, as you may well imagine the bulk of those are people of color.
The work of the innocence project is monumental when considered against the difficult and next to impossible prospect to get the system to say it was wrong or even to open up to a second look after convicting someone for a crime they did not commit.