While New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is throwing a fit over a judge ordering that police officers in the precincts with the highest number of stop and frisks wear a camera on their uniforms, the Ft. Worth, Texas police are doing so voluntarily. Why? Because it works.
It’s also intended to settle disputes between police and residents who believe that they have been unfairly treated or arrested, said Sgt. Scott Sikes, who is in charge of implementing the program.
“We’ve seen dash-cams in police cars for years,” Sikes said. “This technology allows officers to take that recording device with them as they leave the car.
“In cities around the country that have already tested these, or different models of these, they’ve had a significant reduction in numbers of complaints against officers.”
The images will be uploaded to the Internet-based Evidence.com storage system, Sikes said, and officers cannot edit or alter the data. Residents may obtain copies of the footage through open-records requests.
This is exactly how it should be done. And good cops should be strongly in favor of it. Uniform cameras don’t just protect citizens from abusive and dishonest cops, they also protect good cops from dishonest people falsely claiming misconduct. I suspect that Bloomberg is upset about this because he knows that, with over 90% of all stops resulting in no wrongdoing at all, the uniform cameras will reveal just how unreasonable that “reasonable suspicion” they claim to base all stops on truly is.
And I’ll make a prediction: the number of people stopped and frisked in those precincts where the cops are wearing cameras will go down and the percentage of people caught actually doing something wrong will go up. This will happen because the officers will be more careful to have actual evidence to justify suspicion before stopping someone. The cameras will do what they are intended to do, as they’ve done elsewhere. And Bloomberg will still throw a fit about it.