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> Earlier this year the Washington Post reported that many small police departments were abandoning body-worn-camera programmes because of the cost.

> Although the cameras are cheap, officers can generate 15 gigabytes of video per shift; storage costs mount. Police unions often oppose body-worn cameras, fearing they imperil their members by giving superior officers licence to search them for punishable behaviour.

>Other officers complain about the amount of time required to review and redact footage in response to public-information requests.

Sure, the Police themselves don't like the cameras turned on them. Suddenly it is "too expensive".

Then they will turn around and argue for ubiquitous CCTV camera installations.




Since 2004, Chicago Police Department paid out $662 million [1] in police misconduct settlements.

The optimist in me says that the cost of proper police reform, training, body cameras, video storage, and actually punishing bad cops would be much less then that.

[1]: https://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20160320/NEWS07/1603...


I find this to be a really compelling counter-argument to the whole "accountability is too expensive" line. Even if proper tech + training cost only reduced rate of severe misconduct by 15%, that's over $100M in savings.

I'm sure implementing reform etc isn't cheap, but I seriously doubt it's on the order of $100M.


To the people performing the misconduct, training and accountability are restrictions and represent a reduction in power. No amount of money savings will make them in favor of it.


I agree. But of course the offending people can’t just come out and say that they’re against accountability on principle - they have to trot out the “too expensive” argument. That’s why the statistic on settlements is useful.


> Axon, which makes body-worn cameras and Tasers... is building a system for managing records...the firm’s chief information-security officer, says that “what we can do to help officers improve most isn’t the sexy stuff. It’s helping them be more efficient and spend more time on the street.”

Uh... what they could do to help officers improve most might be shipping a device that doesn't seem to mysteriously malfunction or be turned off during the most controversial use of force incidents.

The way bodycams are supposed to help is by forcing officers to be accountable for their actions. When police have plausible deniability due to poorly designed tech, all these expensive devices become basically worthless.

In my cynical moments I have wondered if making such bad tech is actually a selling point for Axon and its competitors. They're selling to police departments; the less likelihood bodycams have of embarrassing police, the more likely they are to make a sale. Check the box, move along. I try to have more faith in our institutions, but the abject failure of bodycams from a technology perspective makes me wonder.

I supposed it could also just be due to a few companies having a lock on an enterprise hardware market.


It doesn't really matter if they have a body camera because the courts never convict them anyway


That's not exactly correct. There are several factors here. A big one is that prosecutors (whose jobs depend on police cooperation) have been reluctant to go against police; this probably won't change with video evidence. However, another factor is that jurors are currently inclined to take the police officer's word for it in he-said-she-said type cases, and this may change if bodycam video evidence becomes more plentiful.


Huh so the cops think giving cops the ability to search for punishable behavior might be an issue...


would you want a body camera at your work? You wouldn't I'm sure. Don't blame them for looking for their interest. It's someone else's job to (politicians) to legislate the use of it.


> Don't blame them for looking for their interest.

Blame everybody for only looking out for their own interest, from scammers to corrupt politicians to short-sighted investors to oil execs. Otherwise it's just status-quo infinite whack-a-mole and we see how well that's going.


In my job, I'm not provided a set of lethal and non-lethal weapons. In my job, I am not given the ability to detain anyone. In my job, when someone aggravates me, I do not have issued weapons to use against the aggressor. In my job, I'm not allowed to use deadly force because I feel threatened. I blame them 100% for only looking out for themselves and not the citizens they are sworn to protect.


What a poor analogy. My job doesn't have anything to do with being the sole arbiter of violence and defusing dangerous situations at the trust and expense of taxpayers and local citizens.

If they don't want accountability as police officers, they can go find another job.

> Don't blame them for looking for their interest.

I can, I will and I will argue that it is my moral obligation to ensure that the public servants are acting in the best interest of the public as a citizen. But thanks for your concern.


"giving superior officers licence to search them for punishable behaviour" seems like a legitimate concern. You seem to be assuming that the "superior officers" will have "the best interests of the public" as their sole motivation. In my experience that is rarely true of ladder climbers. By not dealing with this concern you could easily end up making things worse.


If "punishable behaviour" is appropiately limited to things like assault and evidence planting, then this is irrelevant, and superior officers should even be required to preform such searches.

If "punishable behaviour" includes things like slacking off to stop by dunkin donuts, the problem is with what qualifies as punishable behaviour, not the ability to search for it.


You might be missing the point. Assuming that all the good guys are supervisors and all the bad guys are the supervised is an unwise assumption to make. The bad guys can simply become supervisors and weed out the good guys. Entire police departments have been corrupted in this fashion. If you over simplify the problem the solution is unlikely yield the desired result.


No, I'm saying that even if all the supervisors are bad, the ability to search for punishable behaviour only helps them if there exists punishable behaviour for them to find.

I agree that this is a unreasonably high standard to hold people whose job doesn't have anything to do with being the sole arbiter of violence and defusing dangerous situations at the trust and expense of taxpayers and local citizens to.

If they don't want accountability as police officers, they can go find another job.

Edit: unless you meant not supervisors but the policymakers who define "punishable behaviour", in which case getting rid of body cams is about as helpful as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


No good person wants criminal police officers to not be held to account but simply passing laws is unlikely to have the desired effect. Many police departments in the united states are already highly corrupted at the highest levels. Its not as bad as it is in Mexico where the drug lords have actually taken over, but its getting close.




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