Watching The Watchmen

Ron Bailey argues that police should wear cameras on their outfits, claiming it “turns the tables on functionaries of the surveillance state”:

Some preliminary evidence suggests that both police and citizens behave better when they know that they are being recorded. Additionally, the police should not have discretion to release any video to the public. For example, police would be barred from “leaking” videos like that of the drunken actress Reese Witherspoon being arrested in Atlanta for disorderly conduct after a traffic stop. (For what it is worth, the Atlanta police department denies releasing the Witherspoon scene.) Anyone who is recorded, on the other hand, should have access to the video and they should be allowed to consent to public release. Subjects who are incidentally recorded should be blacked out or blurred if the video is released. …

Earlier this year, a 12-month study by Cambridge University researchers revealed that when the city of Rialto, California, required its cops to wear cameras, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and the use of force by officers dropped by almost 60 percent. Watched cops are polite cops.

Rialto’s program is detailed in the news segment seen above. A Dish reader and criminal lawyer recently discussed the pros and cons of equipping cops with cameras.