Tag Archives: Body Camera

Report: Police Brutality Protests Led To Reform Measures In 24 States

Nearly one year after Michael Brown was shot and killed by former police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a series of protests against police brutality have led to 40 new police reform measures being passed in 24 states, which is just a fraction of all of the measures that have been proposed.

An analysis conducted by the Associated Press found that while “legislators in almost every state have proposed changes to the way police interact with the public,” the measures that have been passed address issues such as the body cameras officers wear, how officers are trained concerning racial bias, independent investigations into police use of force and military equipment used by local police departments.

In addition to protests in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown in Aug. 2014, which were met with a militarized police force, protests have erupted over police brutality in several cities such as New York where Eric Garner was choked to death by a police officer, and Baltimore where Freddie Gray died after suffering a severe spinal injury while in police custody.

The Associated Press reported that despite the measures that have passed, “far more proposals have stalled or failed,” and only a few states have changed laws concerning “when police are justified to use deadly force.”

The most popular measures, which surround the use of body cameras worn by police officers, were passed in sixteen states according to the analysis. Body cameras have played a vital part in revealing the accurate set of events in cases such as the recent shooting of Samuel DuBose, in which the body camera former officer Ray Tensing was wearing revealed that he was lying about only shooting DuBose after he was “dragged” down the street by DuBose’s car.

[RELATED: Obama’s New $263 Million Proposal Is Not Just About Body Cameras]

The report noted that Colorado, Connecticut and Illinois were the only three states to pass “comprehensive packages of legislation encouraging body cameras, boosting police training on such things as racial biases and requiring independent investigations when police shoot people,” and that Colorado and Connecticut were among several states that “bolstered citizen rights to take videos of police.”

Investigative journalist Ben Swann addressed the root of police militarization in an episode of Truth in Media in Dec. 2014. Swann noted that while local police departments having access to military equipment was a problem, a larger problem existed surrounding the use of military tactics by police officers.


VIDEO: Ohio Police Officer Refuses to Shoot Man Attempting Suicide By Cop

“Law enforcement officers all across the nation have to deal with split-second decisions that mean life or death. I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force,” said New Richmond, OH Police Officer Jesse Kidder in comments to WLWT-TV, after the news outlet released body camera video, seen above, showing Kidder refusing to kill charging double murder suspect Michael Wilcox last Thursday. Kidder had been told by dispatchers prior to the incident in the video that Wilcox might be armed with a gun and could be preparing to attempt to commit suicide by cop.

Rookie Officer Kidder, a veteran of the US Marine Corps who earned a Purple Heart while serving overseas in Iraq, was praised by New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey, who told WLWT-TV, “For him to make the judgment call that he did shows great restraint and maturity.”

The above video begins as Officer Kidder confronts Michael Wilcox, who had just led police on a multi-county chase after allegedly killing his own best friend and fiance. Though Wilcox did not pull a gun during the encounter, he had told police previously that he was armed and, as he approached, threatened to shoot Officer Kidder while appearing to clutch something in his hand in his jacket pocket.

“He jumped out and he sprinted towards me. I had my firearm already drawn on me, and I told him to put his hands up in the air and he was screaming as he was yelling, ‘Shoot me, shoot me,'” said Officer Kidder to WLWT-TV. “I was trying to open a dialogue with him. ‘I don’t want to shoot you, get on the ground,’ but he wasn’t having it. He kept repeating, ‘Shoot me.’ At one point, he said ‘Shoot me or I’ll shoot you.'”

Then, Officer Kidder described a particularly difficult moment in which he chose to exercise restraint, “[Wilcox] got towards my face right as I lost balance. I’m thinking, at this point, that if he goes in to attack me, that I’ll have to use deadly force to defend myself.” However, right at that moment, backup arrived, and the suspect collapsed to the ground in surrender.

New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey hopes that the incident will lead lawmakers to supply his officers with body cameras, as, during the above-seen incident, Officer Kidder had been voluntarily wearing a body camera that was given to him by a family member following the highly-publicized officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Ferguson Police Have Body Cameras… But Don’t Wear Them

Recent events such as the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, have attracted a multitude of criticism. One thing the public questions is how this shooting could have been avoided, and if the newly popular body-mounted cameras worn by police officers would have made a difference.

While Ferguson police claim that Wilson “fired only after Brown tried to grab his gun,” eyewitnesses maintain, “Brown’s hands were raised when he was killed.”

According to NBC News, over a thousand police departments in the U.S. are using body cameras. The question stands: Would Wilson wearing a body camera have made a difference?

According to the Wall Street Journal, just as dashboard-mounted cameras in patrol cars were met with criticism when they became popular in the mid-1990s, body-mounted cameras have also been criticized.

One group that is not in favor of the new trend is the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which responded to an order that the New York Police Department must wear body cameras in certain districts, with a report calling the cameras an “encumbrance.”

In contrast, the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement saying that the cameras “have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse.”

A criminology professor at Arizona State University, Michael White, believes that just like the dashboard cameras, the body cameras will also become a part of standard procedure. “It could be as little as 10 years until we see most police wearing these,” said White.

White told the Wall Street Journal that he doesn’t believe the body cameras will necessarily solve all of the problems between citizens and law enforcement. “There is a presumption that citizens will be happy with this because it seems to provide more transparency and accountability, but that might not be the case,” White said. “Especially in areas where there are long-term tensions between police and their communities.”

Missouri lawmaker, Courtney Curtis, also believes the use of a body camera would have made a difference, especially in preventing the major protests that broke out following Brown’s death. Curtis told NBC News that even if the potential use of audio-video hadn’t provided all of the answers, it would have at least given them a “starting point.”

While one of the concerns about arming each and every police officer with a body-mounted camera has been the cost, new competition in the market has set the current price of individual cameras between $300 and $400.

Two of the major companies supplying these devices are Vievu LLC and Taser International Inc. Both companies require extra monthly subscription fees regarding the storage and management of the data in a cloud-based system.

Petitions have been created on both Change.org and on the White House website have been created, demanding that police officers be required to wear body cameras. As of Tuesday, the petition on Change.org has almost 43,000 signatures, and the petition on the White House’s website has over 120,500 signatures.

While many are crying out for the use of body cameras to be adopted in towns such as Ferguson, Missouri, the Wall Street Journal reported, “Police in Ferguson have a stock of body-worn cameras, but have yet to deploy them to officers.