The riots and protests that swept through Ferguson this summer left a huge impression on the minds of the average American. The masses got to see with their own eyes, police brutality and corruption on a massive scale. For the very first time, those events forced the mainstream media to recognize the widespread militarization of our local police.
After the dust settled, people wanted something to be done. They demanded something be done. What could we do to cut through the thin blue line, and rein in these heavily armed cowboy cops?
For most, the answer lies in equipping them with body cams. If the police are forced to record every action, we can catch them in act. Even better, the threat of being caught will keep them from abusing their power in the first place. So far there’s been a few police departments that have enacted this protocol with spectacular results.
When the city of Rialto California equipped their police officers with body cams, the use of force by police was reduced by 60 percent, and the number of complaints against the department dropped by 88 percent. “Problem solved!” you might be thinking. We can finally penetrate the thin blue line. We the public, can finally hold them accountable for their actions.
Unfortunately, there’s a few hiccups in that plan. For starters, it isn’t going curb police corruption. Sure, we’ll catch a few hotheads here and there, but by and large, I don’t expect it to have any measurable effect. There’s one simple fact that the proponents of body cams are ignoring.
When a cop does something truly heinous, those body cams have a tendency to “malfunction”. Footage tends to “get lost” and sometimes officers “forget” to turn them on. Take the case of Mark Byrge who had a traffic accident in Utah, and a rather painful encounter with the local police.
Byrge . . . made a single request of his captors: Owing to several back surgeries and the implantation of a $50,000 Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS), Mark asked that the officers cuff him in front.
While explaining his condition, Mark very slowly and carefully lifted his shirt in order to display an iPod-sized rectangular lump in his lower right back.
Neither Mark’s cooperation nor his explanation made an impression on Gianfelice.
“Don’t tell me how to do my job – put your hands behind your back!” barked Gianfelice, instructing his trainee officer, Jennifer Nakai, to apply the cuffs. Before being shackled, Mark called his wife Tina to tell her he was being arrested.
Byrge says Gianfelice then pushed into the squad car and pushed him up against the seat, which Byrge says destroyed his medical device. According to medical scans of the device taken later, it stopped functioning while Byrge was in Gianfelice’s custody. The device had been implanted to treat chronic pain in Byrge’s leg. When it stopped functioning, Byrge’s leg began seizing. Gianfelice apparently took this as a sign of resisting, and so subjected Byrge to more abuse.
So what about the footage found on the body cameras that those cops were wearing? Nobody knows. Either there was a malfunction in all three cameras or they weren’t turned on. The dash cam footage from the squad cars is also missing. That’s not suspicious at all right?
Truth be told, even if there isn’t some kind of malfunction or the footage isn’t lost, the police still have a lot of control over access to these videos. They have to be. The nature of their job means that they’re going to be documenting people when they are at their most vulnerable. Those cameras are going to catch scenes that most private citizens would not want the public to see. That same power that is needed to protect the privacy of the average citizen is going to make footage of police transgressions, very hard to get a hold of.
Written by: JOSHUA KRAUSE – continue at THE DAILY SHEEPLE