Atlanta Cops Caught Deleting Body Cam Footage, Failing To Activate Recording Devices

from the all-the-accountability-a-lack-of-internal-accountability-can-provide! dept

Atlanta, Georgia, August 23, 2016:

Officials are promising more transparency on the part of law enforcement, and greater trust between cops and the community. The body cameras “will strengthen trust among our officers and the communities they serve by providing transparency to officer interactions,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed this past week in announcing a purchase.

Oh, we were all so very young then. Look at us (including me!), pointing to the increasing adoption of body cameras as the ushering in of a new era of transparency and accountability. Didn't take long for this lily to get unceremoniously de-gilded.

Cameras are great tools of accountability. They just can't be controlled and maintained by cops. Two years after promising a better police force brimming with accountable officers steadily working to rebuild relationships with the citizens they police, Atlanta residents are being informed their servants/protectors are cheats and liars.

The audit looked at a random sample of 150 videos from officers’ body cameras. In more than half the cases, officers failed to activate and deactivate their cameras at the required time, the audit said.

Officers also miscategorized 22 of the videos, including a use of force incident. Auditors said mislabeling the videos may have led to some being deleted prematurely.

And the audit said that officers failed to capture two-thirds of dispatched calls between November 2017 and May 2018.

These results shouldn't shock Atlanta residents or readers of this site. It doesn't even shock Atlanta Police officials. Police Chief Erika Shields says she's "not happy" with the results of the audit, but also "not surprised." She excuses her officers actions in the worst possible way:

"I knew that what we are asking of officers is a culture shift."

It's your job to make sure the "culture" actually "shifts," Chief Shields. That it hasn't budged despite the addition of body cameras says a whole lot about the culture at the top of the PD. Whatever discipline Shields has meted out (she only says it happens, not how frequently or severely) clearly isn't enough. And the culture that remains in place in the Atlanta PD is downright nasty.

Auditors identified 64 videos “that were deleted by users who should not have had been authorized to delete videos from the system” from November 2016 to 2018.

Officer use-of-force incident videos are supposed to be handled differently. Supervisors are supposed to upload them and they to be labeled properly in case the department or the public needs to review them later.

But the audit found APD supervisors routinely didn’t understand their responsibilities. One zone supervisor told auditors he was unaware that it was his job to upload use of force videos.

Officers know the system is flawed and abuse it. Those in charge of securing recordings officers may not want retained either don't know what they're doing or are playing dumb when questioned by auditors. At the top of the miserable heap is a chief who has allowed flagrant policy violations to occur under her watch.

An official worth a damn would never express their lack of surprise at this sort of behavior from underlings. There should be shock and dismay at these results, not a shrug of "They're cops, what can you do?" emanating from the top person in Atlanta law enforcement. If that's the official reaction, the next audit will just find more of the same.

Filed Under: accountability, atlanta, body cameras, police


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  • identicon
    Kitsune106, 10 Dec 2018 @ 2:13pm

    Sooooooo

    Apparently the cops never heard of the broken windows theory of policing. I mean, if they and politicians did, surely they would bring the same theory of small stuff leads to bad stuff and maximum law and order, just like how we need to hit small drug possessors hard to deter other criminals.....

    ooohhh wait....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2018 @ 2:26pm

      Re: Sooooooo

      Almost as if the police need to be policed. Who watches the watchers. If the answer is no one, then the watchers are now your local mafia.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 10 Dec 2018 @ 2:49pm

    Culture shift?

    "I knew that what we are asking of officers is a culture shift."

    It wouldn't be a culture shift to let a camera run while you are doing police work. The culture shift would be actually doing what can be called police work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2018 @ 2:54pm

    Fire Police Chief Erika Shields effective immediately. The first task of the new Police Chief is to appropriately hold associates accountable for failure to meet requirements of the job. That sets example of proper accountability in alignment with the laws the organization is charged to enforce.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Discuss It (profile), 10 Dec 2018 @ 3:11pm

    The police are not to be trusted

    If there is one lesson life has taught me in my 50+ years, it's that you cannot, and should not trust police of any stripe. I've only met two persons in LEO that I would trust, Rusty Valentine, of the Corpus Christi Police force (retired now) and -- (redacted to protect him/her), an undercover FBI agent. Every one else I've had to interact with I suspected of being abusive or cooked. A few I knew were cookred and planted drugs or weapons of innocent people. I did what I could when I could with what I could prove.

    I once called an ambulance, and as is usual in my area, a sheriff's deputy was also called. I saw him and have it on video that they pocketed my Colt 1911 pistol and several gold coins.

    Yeah, like I'm going to report that. I don't need a big red bulls eye on the back of my head. I can buy another pistol and more gold, but I can't purchase another life.

    Most LEO are good people. The issue is when the good folks won't turn in the bad ones. It's hard to break loyalty with folks you work with, but it is worse to break the faith for those you work to protect. As long as there is even 5% of bad cops, I'm not going to trust you. So, if you are a cop, part of your job is to git rid of bad cops.

    Bad cops make you less. We respect cops because we hold you to a higher standard. Not everyone is suited to be a cop. Only the best should be. Do not tolerate substandard policing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 12:08am

      Re: The police are not to be trusted

      The moment they refuse to turn in the bad ones, they stop being good people. They're now enabling, defending (up to and including killing people to do so) and supporting the rot actively and deliberately.

      When police protect their child-rapists, thieves, murderers, scammers and assaulter friends because they are part of the same gang, it is because they not only approve but are no less guilty than whichever of their brethren who themselves performed the acts.

      And that means all civilians have reason to be fearing for their lives the moment they see those lights or badges anywhere.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 8:47am

      Re: The police are not to be trusted

      If so-called good Police cover for the bad ones, they are just as guilty and bad. It's the Blue Line Gang. They have their own flag, and they cover for each other. It's also why, when something big happens, all their camera's somehow failed to record anything. All there seems to be is a far away Dashcam that can't see anything worth seeing. Just what they want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Dec 2018 @ 3:29pm

    "I knew that what we are asking of officers is a culture shift."

    And you should replace every single one of them if their response to an independent 'witness' to their interactions with the public is to turn it off, or 'accidentally' label it saving a kitten from a tree instead of beating the mentally ill man within an inch of his life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Christenson, 10 Dec 2018 @ 4:11pm

      Re:

      How long before defense attorneys start getting adverse inferences (innocence of defendant, malfeasance on part of cops) when there's no footage???

      TAC, the only problem with your *should* is that the chief lacks the cojones to carry it out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 12:13am

        Re: Re:

        That depends: How long before every current prosecutor gets offed and then replaced by real humans?

        Because CAs and DAs are just as much a part of the problem; they're the ones who go "nothing to see here, move along" when a cop is actually fucking caught for once.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 4:33am

        Re: Re:

        TAC, the only problem with your should is that the chief lacks the cojones to carry it out.

        By nature, 'SHE' already has a lack of cojones. She might surprise us with the fortitude to implement changes.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      keithzg (profile), 10 Dec 2018 @ 5:23pm

      Re:

      I've said it before, I'll say it again: police culture is too toxic for anything to work short of firing all of them and starting again from scratch. I've yet to see any proof otherwise.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2018 @ 4:13pm

    Fuck the Police

    All of them.

    If any given officer isn't committing the crimes then they're helping cover another who is. They're *all* part of the problem. Not one of them can be trusted.

    The unions are a massive part of the problem. The solution seems to be to disband the police across the nation and replace them with a new set of law enforcement personnel called something other than "police". Ban unions and start off with all the rules we now know we need to govern and restrict our law enforcement. Build in a system of public oversight and tie law enforcement income / continued employment to their behavior and ability to follow the rules. Eliminate the profit motive of forfeiture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 8:49am

      Re: Fuck the Police

      Unions are a huge part of the problem. They protect all the bad PIGS!!! If they do get booted, they just go and start working at another police department in some other city.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2018 @ 5:21pm

    Tired of this dance.....
    We all know why they turn off the cameras and there is a simple solution.

    No video....no charges.
    -or-
    No video - no conviction
    -or-
    no video, no bail

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 10 Dec 2018 @ 7:48pm

    how many comments to any of this??

    DUH!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymouse, 10 Dec 2018 @ 9:20pm

    Serial Podcast

    Check out the serial podcast. I've only listened to a handful of them. And all of them have made it clear just how corrupt the police, prosecutors, and judges are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Dec 2018 @ 1:06am

    A few bad (orchards worth of) apples

    And yet another case where where you've got rampant corruption, or, in the best case scenario, gross incompetence on the part of people who have guns as standard equipment.

    Because holding people who can literally decide matters of life and death with almost zero risk on their part to no standards makes perfect sense.

    And they wonder why people are increasingly distrustful of them and have ever decreasing levels of respect for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 11 Dec 2018 @ 1:31am

    Simple solution

    Who does not manage the complexity of using a camera cannot be trusted with a gun. Make camera training an inherent part of the training at a shooting range. If your camera misses the target, that's at least as bad than if your bullet misses the target. If you are regularly lacking camera coverage, you lose access to a gun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 8:53am

      Re: Simple solution

      The Guns come out way too quickly. The PIGS are scared of their own shadows these days. They'll pull the trigger without seeing any gun. You're dead, they can't find a gun and it's OPS. On with their job and another day while you're DEAD. Why they even carry billy clubs they don't use them. Tasers, you might die? But whip out that gun first.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Chip, 11 Dec 2018 @ 9:29am

        Re: Re: Simple solution

        Hey di "You" go to Smilin Jim's "Aunacreddited" Forth GRADE ACAMEDY "too"?

        Every Nation eats the Pint chips it Deserves!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WysiWyg, 11 Dec 2018 @ 1:46am

    Haven't technology gotten to the point where the cameras can run for an entire shift? And the video automatically downloaded, saved and timestamped?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 11 Dec 2018 @ 2:14am

      'Whoops, looks like that damning evidence was deleted.'

      The cameras are fine, the problem is the people wearing them/'accidentally' turning them off/deleting videos from them, paired with gutless and/or complicit supervisors who either can't grow enough of a spine to enforce use or have their own reasons to want as little evidence as possible of what those under them are doing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 6:24am

    Why do those cameras have any user controls? An on/off switch? Why? If it can be turned off it will be turned off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 11 Dec 2018 @ 7:29am

    Cameras should be on any time the uniform is worn

    Much of this can be fixed with technology.

    Cameras with all-day battery life and capacity are now cheap.

    The cameras should be sewn into the uniform with a motion sensor - they stay on from the moment the uniform is moved, and stay on for 15 minutes after the last movement. No "off" switch.

    Cameras are charged and downloaded overnight; putting on a uniform with a less-than-fully-charged battery is a firing offense.

    And all videos should be saved for a minimum of 2 years.

    (I hear YouTube will save all the videos you like, for free.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 11 Dec 2018 @ 7:35am

      Re: Cameras should be on any time the uniform is worn

      ...and every citizen who interacts with an officer (and their attorneys and heirs) should have the automatic right to obtain a copy of video from 15 minutes before the start of the interaction until 15 minutes after the end.

      Who watches the watchers? The citizens do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re: Cameras should be on any time the uniform is worn

        The citizens SHOULD, but aren't allowed to. The watches do whatever they want. They're called PIGS for a reason. They earn the hate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 11 Dec 2018 @ 9:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Cameras should be on any time the uniform is worn

          Would you rather live in a world with no police at all?

          I think you'd have small-scale tyrants operating with impunity within hours.

          We need police. We also need to control them. It's difficult, but the alternatives are worse.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 11 Dec 2018 @ 10:41am

    I say this every time something with police comes up: go after their pensions! If you want police culture to change, hit them where it hurts. Currently, they don't give a damn because any punishment, no matter how rare, is paid for by the taxpayers, not the cops. Stop suing the city, attack their pensions and their unions. Bankrupt the damn police unions, bankrupt their pensions! Then, maybe, the "police culture" will change and they will actually be there to "protect and serve" instead of being nothing but a self-serving bully patrol.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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