The St. Louis City Police Department announced today; they will begin a body camera pilot program. Only a few officers will have them, so I expect videos will often be unavailable when the situation is questionable. However, I expect to see many videos that prove the suspect's guilt.
With controversial St. Louis City police shooting deaths since Michael Brown including Kajieme Powell, Vonderritt Myers, Isaac Holmes and Mansur Ball-Bey, there's no viable reason why officers shouldn't have body cameras. The only legitimate privacy concern is when an officer enters a private residence or any other non-public location. In public spaces, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled there is no expectation of privacy, so there is no valid reason not to require body cameras, other than to shield officers and the City from accountability.
Police officers provide a very important and necessary function including public safety. They are authorized by law to use deadly force and there should be some protections built is to make sure that deadly force is absolutely necessary. Even when police officers use excessive force unless there's a video is involved, the police officer's version is never questioned, until video surfaces.
The average person is a decent law abiding person, but criminal laws exist against theft, robbery, rape, murder and a host of other crimes. Those laws don't exist because every person is expected to commit crimes, they exist because some people do. We don't need body cameras because all police officers are rogue or corrupt, we need them because some are.
As I've expressed many times before, I believe most police officers are hard working and honest with an extremely stressful and dangerous job to do. However, unchecked power is dangerous. The "founding fathers" understood that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely". The authorized unquestioned use of deadly force is absolute power!
Since a technology exist that allows checks and balances on the use of police force, it should not be a contract bargaining issue. I can think of no other circumstance where an employee is allowed to dictate to his employer what type of equipment will or won't be used in the performance of their duties unless it involves some sort of safety issue. In this instance safety is involved; those of both the police officer and the public.
Police lives matter too
Body cameras protect police officers too! Many suspects will be more aware that their actions are being recording which should result in reduce resistance; because it will be much easier to prove and charge resisting arrest. The videos will often exonerate police officers in situations such as Elkhart, TX.
A 24-year-old rookie St. Louis city police officer was shot Sunday, November 22nd and, fortunately, a suspect was quickly caught. I'm happy they caught the person allegedly responsible, but that is what I expect. I can't recall many crimes when a police officer is a victim, where no suspect is caught. I'm certain it happens, but those instances are most certainly exceptions rather than the rule. Body camera video will help get convictions.
I have friends who are or were police officers and even some of them have expressed frustration with other police officers. Below, three black St. Louis police officers describe their experiences with white officers on the Jamie Allman Report.
One of my friends was killed when he was only 23. His funeral was attended by what seemed to be every police officer in the city and police officers from various departments blocked traffic and lined the route to the cemetery. I was reminded of him on November 22nd and I'm glad his family didn't experience what my friend did. I wonder if body cameras would have made a difference in my friend's case. Maybe the suspect wouldn't have been so quick to pull the trigger, knowing his actions were being recorded.
Another friend was severely burned while responding to a domestic situation. A flammable substance was thrown at him and ignited and my friend's shirt, which was mostly synthetic, melted onto his skin resulting in severe burns over most of his upper body. St. Louis City police uniforms were changed as a result of that incident. Flame and heat resistant materials were used to better protect officers. I doubt that a body camera would have prevented my friend injury, but body camera will make it much easier to get convictions and longer sentences for these types of acts.