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Transparency and Brian Kelly
Posted by: Bryan Pick on Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dale beat me to the punch yesterday with a post about recordings of police officers. Radley Balko's article immediately reminded me of a non-fiction book I enjoyed by David Brin called The Transparent Society (subtitle: "Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?").

In his book, published back in 1998, Brin envisions a scene in which a police officer pulls over a young man for a traffic violation, and the officer is videotaping the event (as is increasingly common). He arrives at the car and asks the young man to exit the car, and the young man, suspicious of the heat, brings his own little camera to bear on the officer. Sound familiar?

Brin's scene doesn't end with the camera being confiscated and six more police officers showing up in an apparent attempt to intimidate the suspect. Instead, there's a sort of "video standoff" in which both parties are acutely aware that their actions are being recorded. The young man looks at the officer's badge and says, "Well, hello, Officer... 56467. What seems to be the problem?" The officer's video is transmitted straight to the precinct, and the young man's video is transmitted straight home to be recorded on his computer.

Place your bets about how the two parties will behave in this situation. You think the officer is going to overstep his bounds, or go by the book? Do you think the young man is going to do something stupid? If either of them do, what are the odds of getting away with it? And if other nearby citizens have their own cameras turned on the scene?

The point is, the presence of video cameras helps create mutual accountability. Police officers who conduct themselves properly will be vindicated by evidence of their professionalism if they're ever challenged, while bullies in uniform will be constrained by the ever-watchful eyes of video recorders. And with the arrival of smaller, cheaper, and higher-resolution cameras, this is going to be more and more common, so it's important that cases like this allow citizens to defend themselves and create that accountability for our public servants.

On a related note: the ACLU is giving cameras and training to citizens of St. Louis for this very purpose. Seems like a fine idea.

I could go on about the benefit of video cameras, but I'll just conclude by saying, perhaps you're not familiar with Witness, which arms human rights groups with video cameras to document abuses. Check it out.
 
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You raise a good point. We hear a lot about Big Brother (government surveillance) but we’re witnessing the quiet rise of Little Brother, the offsetting power of citizens to monitor their government.

Maybe the Second Amendment should be updated to include cameras.

What if most people had a video camera going all the time, just as a safety precaution? Would the average criminal attack someone with a camera going, esp. if the video is being fed back to a remote location for secure storage? If data storage and transmission price trends continue, we could be there soon.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
Let everybody tape... the more the merrier.

What will be interesting is which tape a jury will weigh more heavily if there’s a conflict, or something is heard on one tape and not another.

Everyone surely remembers the unarmed Airman who was shot in San Bernadino last year after the 100mph DUI chase. The officer claims he meant to say "don’t get up," while on the grainy videotape you can only hear "get up." It’ll be fascinating to see happens when, whether due to tape drop-out, distance, wind, etc the tapes don’t agree. With the proliferation of small camcorders, cell phones, spy-cams, and dash-cams, it’s only a matter of time before juries are faced with dueling videotapes.

In the above case, there was only one tape, but "don’t get up" would make a hell of a difference compared to "get up."
 
Written By: TheNewGuy
URL: http://
And without the video we would only have the word of the officer, who happened to get it wrong the first time:
In an initial interview with a sheriff’s sergeant at the scene, Webb said he repeatedly told Carrion to stay on the ground and fired his weapon because Carrion lunged at him.

Four days later, after the video was aired on TV news programs nationwide, Webb told detectives he fired because Carrion reached inside his jacket — Webb thought for a weapon — as he was disobeying orders by getting up.
Multiple video would give us even more perspectives and provide more clarity, not less. Would you rather have one person testify as a witness or multiple people testify? Juries already have to deal with "dueling" testimony. The judicial system can handle "dueling" video as well.

BTW, here’s a series of articles about the shooting of Airman Carrion.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Maybe the Second Amendment should be updated to include cameras.
It already does, as cameras are items of military utility.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
It sounds like a variation of “An armed society is a polite society.” without the blood and bullets.
 
Written By: Brian Keith Kilburn
URL: http://
After watching the growth and misuse of photoshop and combined with the ubiquitous youtube and similar knockoffs I would be concerned about the ’truthfulness" of the depictions. I can see moveon.org hiring video technicians to edit and manipulate videos submitted to youtube to demonstrate police brutality from their last demonstration. Do you trust CNN to replay those videos? I would have more confidence in MyPetJawa reviewing them for accuracy.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
You think the officer is going to overstep his bounds, or go by the book? Do you think the young man is going to do something stupid? If either of them do, what are the odds of getting away with it? And if other nearby citizens have their own cameras turned on the scene?
So everyone would be videotaping everyone else, and the Govt would be videotaping us videotaping everyone else, and we’d be videotaping the Govt as they videotape us...


Yeah, great. Woopee. That’s not quite the country I want to be living in...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Yeah, f the pigs, or whatever you’re trying to say. There’s a whole world full of islamist jihadis who want to f your women and you’re talking about taping the cops? How lame!
 
Written By: Jon Benke
URL: http://
"There’s a whole world full of islamist jihadis who want to f your women and you’re talking about taping the cops? How lame"

You are probably looking for the "All Jihad, All The Time" blog. This ain’t it.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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