By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014
Security cameras are an integral part of many organizations, from low-level retail to big brand manufacturing. Whatever is recorded is rarely shown to the public or even kept for long periods of time, but when something occurs it’s always good to have video evidence, especially in this day and age when it’s essential to justice.
So if the barista at Starbucks has to be on camera all day long while serving coffee, why shouldn’t police officers be on camera all day long while serving and protecting citizens? Law enforcement is a tough job—I don’t deny that; however, I’m convinced that often the coercive measures taken to enforce the law might be overly drastic.
Recently, several police brutality videos have been shared on the Internet to ensure that the citizens being detained receive at the very least an apology for the forceful way in which they were apprehended. It’s sickening to see a police officer throw furious jabs at a man who has his arms behind his back, or worse, see a 200lb man wrestle down a woman and continue to pummel her while she’s on the ground. Whether the victim deserved the physical punishment or the police officer overstepped bounds is beyond me, but what I am sure you can agree on is that transparency is the key to establishing harmony between the law and the people the laws are meant to protect.
In the States—California specifically—there are initiatives for police to wear cameras when they are on duty. Instead of having spectators film police when a wrongdoing occurs, the police should just include that in their operations. If they have done nothing wrong in the course of action, then there is nothing to worry about.
The argument is that if certain people see a police with a camera attached to them, then a certain level of fear is omitted, but I don’t believe that to be the case. After all, I sure as hell don’t want video evidence of me showing disrespect to a police officer. Nevertheless, I would want even less to have a video of me being assaulted by a police officer. Moreover, why the hell should citizens, who have done nothing wrong, fear cops anyways?
Well, that’s because 90 per cent of people are law-abiding, but 99.9 per cent of people are unnerved by the unpredictability of law enforcement officers. Simply put, people just aren’t educated in what the police can or cannot do to us. The RCMP, and other departments in charge of our safety, need to meet us halfway. Certain public places are constantly under surveillance. It seems to me that wherever a police officer happens to be, that is a good place for an extra eye.
Cops are people too, and they perform a tough role in our society. Wearing a camera on the job is not an expression of mistrust. Instead, it should be seen as how guns, Tasers, and other technological advantages are used to help them perform their job. It’s an affordable measure that can save a lot of people from injuries and stop officers from stepping over the thin blue line.