Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-Thirds

Chris | InformationLiberation
Jul. 17, 2013

When cops in a Rialto, California were forced to wear cameras, their use of force dropped by over two-thirds. Additionally, the officers who were not made to wear the cameras used force twice as much as those who did. This strongly suggests the majority of the time police use force is unnecessary. In other words, the majority of the time these officers used force they were simply committing acts of violence which they don't feel comfortable committing if it's captured on film.

From The New York Times:
HERE'S a fraught encounter: one police officer, one civilian and anger felt by one or both. Afterward, it may be hard to sort out who did what to whom.

Now, some police departments are using miniaturized video cameras and their microphones to capture, in full detail, officers' interactions with civilians. The cameras are so small that they can be attached to a collar, a cap or even to the side of an officer's sunglasses. High-capacity battery packs can last for an extended shift. And all of the videos are uploaded automatically to a central server that serves as a kind of digital evidence locker.

William A. Farrar, the police chief in Rialto, Calif., has been investigating whether officers' use of video cameras can bring measurable benefits to relations between the police and civilians. Officers in Rialto, which has a population of about 100,000, already carry Taser weapons equipped with small video cameras that activate when the weapon is armed, and the officers have long worn digital audio recorders.

But when Mr. Farrar told his uniformed patrol officers of his plans to introduce the new, wearable video cameras, "it wasn't the easiest sell," he said, especially to some older officers who initially were "questioning why 'big brother' should see everything they do."

He said he reminded them that civilians could use their cellphones to record interactions, "so instead of relying on somebody else's partial picture of what occurred, why not have your own?" he asked. "In this way, you have the real one."

Last year, Mr. Farrar used the new wearable video cameras to conduct a continuing experiment in his department, in collaboration with Barak Ariel, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge  and an assistant professor at Hebrew University.

Half of Rialto's uniformed patrol officers on each week's schedule have been randomly assigned the cameras, also made by Taser International. Whenever officers wear the cameras, they are expected to activate them when they leave the patrol car to speak with a civilian.

A convenient feature of the camera is its "pre-event video buffer," which continuously records and holds the most recent 30 seconds of video when the camera is off. In this way, the initial activity that prompts the officer to turn on the camera is more likely to be captured automatically, too.

THE Rialto study began in February 2012 and will run until this July. The results from the first 12 months are striking. Even with only half of the 54 uniformed patrol officers wearing cameras at any given time, the department over all had an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints filed against officers, compared with the 12 months before the study, to 3 from 24.

Rialto's police officers also used force nearly 60 percent less often -- in 25 instances, compared with 61. When force was used, it was twice as likely to have been applied by the officers who weren't wearing cameras during that shift, the study found. And, lest skeptics think that the officers with cameras are selective about which encounters they record, Mr. Farrar noted that those officers who apply force while wearing a camera have always captured the incident on video.

As small as the cameras are, they seem to be noticeable to civilians, he said. "When you look at an officer," he said, "it kind of sticks out." Citizens have sometimes asked officers, "Hey, are you wearing a camera?" and the officers say they are, he reported.

But what about the privacy implications? Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, says: "We don't like the networks of police-run video cameras that are being set up in an increasing number of cities. We don't think the government should be watching over the population en masse." But requiring police officers to wear video cameras is different, he says: "When it comes to the citizenry watching the government, we like that."

Mr. Stanley says that all parties stand to benefit -- the public is protected from police misconduct, and officers are protected from bogus complaints. "There are many police officers who've had a cloud fall over them because of an unfounded accusation of abuse," he said. "Now police officers won't have to worry so much about that kind of thing."
Not only should every police officer should be forced to wear one of these cameras, their videos should be freely uploaded for crowd-sourcing by the general public on YouTube. If privacy for the general public is a concern, they could blur people's faces a la` Google street view.

Police love to say if you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide, yet all over the nation police unions virulently fight calls to force them to wear cameras.

Fact is, most cops have everything and more to hide.

Their job is to enforce criminally idiotic and anti-human laws written by criminal politicians, from the drug laws to thousands of idiotic regulations on the books, their job is no longer to arrest violent criminals and thieves but to aggress against non-violent, non-criminals -- which turns them into criminals themselves.

Rather than focus on fighting crime, the majority of the millionaire cop next door's work consists of extorting the general public for cash. For example, speed limits have been shown to have no effect on road safety, yet when the speed limit is 65 instead of 55, revenue for cops drops dramatically, hence most places the speed limit is 55, of course the general public still drives 70 regardless.

Think for a minute how idiotic their speeding laws are. It's called a "speed limit," yet everyone drives over them by at least a few miles per hour, this turns everyone into a so-called "criminal." Police can then pull anyone over and shake them down for cash as a result, though because people get outraged and it makes the news if they ticket people for driving just a few mph over the limit, they generally only shake down people driving 10 mph and above over the limit. Hence the limits are set artificially low. Meanwhile, at the same time, almost every time you see a cop driving on the road they're speeding and weaving around like a lunatic. These are stupid, idiotic laws, but of course, they were not written to be rational and uphold order, they were written to extort the general public of their hard earned money.

Fact is, these days if any average person actually saw what the average cop does all day they'd be shocked and appalled. In fact, when they see glimpses of how police act when they're killing people's dogs and shooting unarmed woodcarvers they are shocked and appalled, they just don't realize these are not "isolated incidents" but instead the rule.
Chris runs the website InformationLiberation.com, you can read more of his writings here. Follow infolib on twitter here.

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