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Thu Apr 30, 2015
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Sharpshooter, with weapon trained, atop a SWAT vehicle
By: Jamelle Bouie
The tide is turning and it is turning much faster than many realize. While many Americans may watch the seemingly never ending videos of police officers using excessive force throughout every corner of our country and want to give up hope, I look at those same videos and think that the people of this country are on the verge of achieving a real and lasting change with the way our police conduct business. It's not going to happen today and it's not going to happen tomorrow, but it will happen if we join together and demand a change of the status quo.
It wasn't too long ago when a police officers word was all that was needed in an investigation. If the police officer says something happened in a certain way then that's what happened. Breakthroughs in forensic science helped corroborate or disprove what a police officer said, which was a good step forward, but not good enough. The question of why a stop occurred in the first place or how a police officer handled the situation were things that science could never figure out. That is up until now.
Now millions of Americans have a video camera inside of their pockets at every moment of their day, which allow us to video tape police officers while they are interacting with the public. These videos are rapidly changing the way many Americans view the police. This is especially so for those of us who don't necessarily have many interactions with police and generally tend to think that police officers should always be trusted to tell the truth and that the person on the receiving end of their interactions must have been doing something wrong. But now we are beginning to see this isn't always the case.
Take one of the most recent examples in South Carolina. If that brave pedestrian didn't take that video then the officer in this case may have never had charges filed against him. Whatever he wrote in the police report would have been given much more weight and there is a very real possibility that would have been the end of it. Thankfully that is not the case and this former officer will soon be having his day in court.
The more every day individuals take matters into their own hands to videotape police the more likely we will begin to see real and substantial changes in the way police conduct their business. Our nations police officers are sworn to protect and serve American citizens, but there are more than a few bad apples who think they are above the law and not enforcers of it.
It should also be said that the vast majority of police officers in this country are upstanding officers and citizens. They work hard to build relationships with the community and make their city or town a better place. But the tiny minority of police officers who take advantage of their position of power and feel they are the law and not enforces of it cast a shadow over all police officers. These bad apples need to have a light cast upon them and that light is average citizens exercising their rights to recording police interactions with the public and releasing those interactions for the world to see.
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1369 days ago
Cell phones are a great tool for transparency. But ultimately I would like to see all cops donned with cameras, ideally live feed.