Who has the Power with Body Cameras – Cops or You?
The Minnesota Legislature is being pushed hard by law enforcement interests to make much body camera video unavailable to the public. The Minnesota Senate has already passed a bill making secret a fair amount of body camera video. Law enforcement is pushing hard for secrecy because they want to keep from the public the ability to monitor police prejudice, abusive/abrasive behavior and practices, and the dual standard of law enforcement that is in our community. Bottom line, law enforcement does not want the public to have the power to do the oversight of accountability of law enforcement with the new tool of body cameras.
I previously reported on actions at the legislature, such as bills HF430/SF498, which are being heavily lobbied for by police statewide.
There is power with the use of body cameras, in viewing hours of body camera videos, I see how it can be used by the public to truly use as a tool to have appropriate control over conduct by police, to help eliminate of abusive and abrasive practices by cops, and to counteract the dual standard of law enforcement in our community which has permeated for years. The videos I watched would all become secret if the Senate’s version of the body camera bill becomes law.
A representative of law enforcement recently compared body cameras to cans of mace – making the point that they are both tools for police. The body camera is not just any tool, however. It may be a tool for law enforcement, but it is also a tool for public accountability – but only if the data is available to the public.
There is power with the use of body cameras, who has that power and the rules of it is going to be front and center next legislative session. Right now law enforcement may have an edge to have less public accountability, less transparency, and have the power with the use of body cameras, unless the public gets involved.