In the last two years the United States has seen a much-needed resurgence of discussion on police violence and abuse of power. The Internet, cellphone camera, and various apps have made it very easy to cop watch and catch corruption on camera. There are millions of videos online that depict unnecessary police aggression and outright murder.
Once police brutality became a national discussion the topic of the Police State itself was a concern. Many people have recognized that the government itself, through the federal 1033 program, has funneled military weapons and equipment to your local police department. In response to this a number of solutions have been proposed. One of the most common suggestions is to implement some type of body camera program. The idea is that police officers will wear cameras that record their interactions with civilians reducing the likelihood of violence and abuse of power.
Whether or not these cameras actually reduce violence remains to be seen but we can draw a few conclusions immediately.
For one, there have been a number of accounts of police officers turning their cameras off, or the cameras somehow accidentally turning off during incidents of violence. If the police can turn the cameras off without oversight then there seems little reason to have the cameras in the first place. If cameras are to be used, some system must be worked out so the camera does not record an officer using the restroom but does not turn off during interactions with the public. So far no such system has been put in place.
Another disturbing point was recently made by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU discusses a recent article from The Washington Post that described how police in Fresno, California had a Real Time Crime Center which issued threat scores for citizens based on a number of factors. The ACLU writes:
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But one other part of Fresno’s vision for the center caught my eye. According to the Post, the city hopes “to add 400 more streams from cameras worn on officers’ bodies.”
Body camera video should NOT be used in systems that live-stream video to centralized monitoring stations and allow police management to activate and monitor any given officer’s camera at will. That is not the right balance between privacy and oversight and practicality. Body cameras are there to provide evidence and accountability in disputed circumstances, not to help furnish police departments with all-seeing views of American cities and towns.
One could also make the argument that body cameras will allow a false sense of security or achievement. As if the fight against police violence and abuse was about getting police to wear cameras and not ending the systematic violence inflicted by the police force as we know them today. The goal should not be reformism but the complete eradication of systematic violence and the public acceptance of such violence. By creating and promoting alternatives to traditional policing we can create something much more powerful, and responsible to our communities.
We have to go further than body cameras and remove ourselves from the system of taxation that allows the police, who are themselves the enforcement arm of the State, to continue to function and thrive despite continuing to abuse and violate the people they are sworn to protect. We can remove ourselves from this Matrix and build a better world that is not based on theft and violence. We can create a world where the police as we know them today are no longer necessary.
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist, community activist, gardener and promoter from Houston, Texas. He is the co-founder of The Houston Free Thinkers, and co-host of Free Thinker Radio. Broze also hosts and produces a weekly podcast under the name the Conscious Resistance Live. His writing can be found on TheConsciousResistance.com, Activist Post, and other independent media sources.
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