from the good-move dept
We’ve had tons of stories about police arresting people for filming them. And we’ve seen plenty of other stories about mobile phone cameras being used to document and share evidence of police overreacting (especially at various protest scenes). However, the folks at On The Media had a great story recently about how the police in Minnesota are filming themselves when they deal with protests and then releasing the raw video footage in response to footage from others.
In the case above, it involved Occupy protestors using video footage of police arresting journalists. However, the police’s own footage put the situation in a bit more context, including showing the police clearly reading out warnings to the crowd that if they don’t help police remove obstructions in the plaza, that they will need to take enforcement action. Does this absolve the actions of the police? Perhaps not, though it may depend on where you sit. However, it is a really interesting strategy, and one that I think actually reflects a very positive development. Rather than hiding from cameras, the police can (and should) use cameras to their own advantage as well.
Amusingly, however, in the story, the police chief notes that the film in question was done by crime scene videographers, who are a little too focused on closeup shots, not knowing quite how to take wide shots that might show the scene in a bit more detail to provide additional context.
Of course, the police chief, Janee Harteau, isn’t fully enlightened. While she does say that officers should always assume they’re being filmed (and mentions permanent cameras in the city, as well as squad car cameras), she still complains that people with mobile phone cameras sometimes “interfere with an officer’s ability to do their job.” She doesn’t really elaborate, beyond saying that police have a job to do in protecting the public. She does say that “the officer’s word doesn’t mean as much as it used to” if there isn’t a video. I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing. If there isn’t more evidence, isn’t it only proper to give the testimony less weight? Either way, I do think the overall idea of police filming themselves (and releasing that video) is a definite step in the right direction, and one that I hope other police departments start using.