Quoted: Police in the age of video and body cameras

“Were seeing things in a different light now that we have so much more on video. You know, let’s face it — technology complicates society, but it also opens up a lot of possibilities.”

Bill de Blasio, New York City mayor, on police body cameras, which NYPD officers are wearing under a pilot program begun last year. The topic of police body cams has come up again this week after a video captured by a bystander showed a South Carolina police officer shooting a fleeing man in the back.

Officer Michael Slager, who has since been fired, is white, while the dead man, Walter Scott, is black — further inflaming racial tensions in the wake of recent high-profile killings of unarmed black men by white police officers. Slager, who had claimed he shot Scott in self-defense, was charged with murder after the video surfaced Tuesday.

Now, the mayor of South Charleston, N.C., has ordered his city’s police officers to wear body cameras. And South Carolina State Rep. Wendell Gilliard is pushing two bills that would outfit officers in police departments statewide with body cameras, he told NPR.

As we’ve written before, some police departments see wearing body cams as a positive — a way to protect both the cops and the people they encounter. Of course, there are privacy concerns, especially for some cops who don’t want their every move recorded. But De Blasio said, according to the New York Observer: “We are going to move more and more to a society where the cameras on police officers – for the good of all, so the truth comes out.”

 

Photo: Officer Jon Low of the Oakland Police Department wears a lapel-mounted video camera in 2010. (Jane Tyska/Oakland Tribune archives)

 

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