Archive for the ‘Policing’s New Visibility’ Category

“To protect the sheep you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.” (Berman, Guggenheim, & Silver, 2001) *See Video Link 1* One of the many memorable quotes from Training Day (2001) the police thriller that has captivated popular culture and has cemented the cast and crew in Hollywood. The movie follows a typical narrative story line involving police work and corruption. Starring Denzel Washington as Detective Alonzo Harris of the Los Angeles narcotics unit and Jake Hoyt, a rookie cop fresh out of training joining the narcotics unit, played by Ethan Hawke.

As the title suggests this is literally Jake Hoyts (Ethan Hawke) first day – training day – in the narcotics unit. The progression of the Jakes training day reveals the culture within the narcotics unit in Los Angeles as Detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) presents it to his new recruit (and us). The legal norms are illustrated through Jakes actions throughout the movie – the consensus perspective – the rules of policing that are clearly defined and yet we get a glimpse of the group norms of the narcotics unit depicted through the actions and words of Detective Alonzo.

In the first scene of the movie, in the diner, the nervousness seeps through Jakes body language and tone as he speaks. We also meet Detective Alonzo and right away we are shown his blatant demeanor; his excessive use of profanities does not uphold the universal CORE value of professionalism. But perhaps this is the culture in the plain clothes division of the L.A. narcotics unit. When Jake enters the 1979 Chevy Monte Carol ‘Office’ of Det. Alonzo, he gets the spiel from Detective Alonzo of what is required of him and what it takes – which is to forget the academy training “because that shit will get you killed… you gotta hear the street, you gotta smell it, you gotta taste that shit – feel it”, according to Detective Alonzo (Berman, Guggenheim, & Silver, 2001). “Informal norms and rules that govern everyday decisions and practices,” (Loftus 2010) are mandatory to survive in the streets as we learn right off the bat.

ear grab training day

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Body cameras and their use within the policing sector is a topic that will most likely bring more legitimacy to policing operations and regular work; however questions of privacy and officer freedom are areas of concern.

It only due to fairly recent technological advancements that such an incredible feat can be produced: watching the watchers from their point of view. Generally a body camera is a small, mountable camera that records audio and visual within a varying scope depending on the make and model. The company that made its name in mountable cameras is GoPro and their ‘Hero’ series (http://gopro.com/), starting at a mere $129.99 ranging to upwards of $499.99. These cameras are small and have a rigid housing that is waterproof (up to 40m) and has HD capabilities for whatever one may put it through. Other companies that hope to make a name for themselves in the policing side of mountable cameras are Vievu (http://www.vievu.com/), and the international company that made its name in non-lethal alternatives, Taser International (http://www.taser.com/). Both Vievu and Taser have two cameras that are being marketed; Vievu ‘Straight Shooter 25’ (starting at $199.99) and the upgraded version ‘Solution’ ($399.99-499.99); Taser int. has two diverse cameras, one mountable ‘Axon’ ($399.99) and the other even smaller ‘Axon Flex’ that can be mounted on glasses, hats or cruisers but also has a bigger price tag of $599.99. The Main differences are Vievu and Taser requiring a monthly fee for law enforcement for memberships of secure storage, whereas GoPro only supply the camera and accessories. The choice is not forced, but up to the discretion of the individual police force upon which device is to be purchased.

One organization that took it upon themselves to implement mounted body cameras was the Vancouver Police Department during the court ordered disbanding of the ‘tent city’ in Oppenheimer Park in 2014. The V.P.D. bought and mounted eight GoPro cameras with chest mounts to get the perspective of the officers as they aided in the court order (Vancouver Sun, 2014). One of the main reasons behind the cameras was because of many members of the public fearing police brutality and questionable practices, but with the video evidence, if any misdeeds were to occur, more evidence would be present opposed to a video uploaded onto YouTube showing the result of an interaction.

The reasoning behind much of the push for mounted cameras is to get more of the view of the officer and what leads up to an interaction because most complaints pertaining to the police go unrecorded, while the main police discrepancies come through the viewing of an amateur video on the internet such as the cases of Robert Dziekanski or Sammy Yatim (Goldsmith, 2010). With the main goal of ensuring integrity, this new form of officer perspective will hopefully play an important role in the future.

If body cameras had been implemented to all officers, both in Canada and the US, incidences like the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown and the 2nd Degree murder charge for Delta’s Constable Jordan MacWilliams could have been used in the courts as evidence. The case of Jordan MacWilliams did not lead to a nationwide outcry as Ferguson, but it did lead to police forces in BC to questioning the charges laid for an officer doing their duty (CBC, 2014). Ferguson however, sparked disintegration of the already strenuous relationship between the public and police (NBC, 2014), so the video evidence of a body camera might have aided in the ruling of the officer involved, but may not have had too great of an effect on the public conception of police practices. However what cameras will affect are the actions and interactions officers and members of the public, both in what they do, what they say or not say due to the fact that on the other end of the camera ‘someone could be watching’. With the cameras every present, this creates a mesh of both a Panopticon and Synopticon (Goldsmith, 2010). The police (the few) oversee the public (the many), this being a Panopticon, and with the public reviewing the actions of the police, a Synopticon, then the situation is converted into a mesh between both because of the cameras on the perspectives of the public and the police.

However, with the Panopticon (few watching the many) perspective (Goldsmith, 2010) and the everyday body camera use, the personal privacy and officer actions such as discretion could often be compromised. Much of the police assemblage does not involve just crime prevention, but also community policing (Brodeur, 2010), and if every interaction were recorded, conversations of private matters, such as familial situations, questionable morals or even everyday occurrences are recorded and some of the information may not have meant to go past the people involved. The other side is police discretion and restriction of their freedom of judgment; what an officer might choose to do may not look good in the eyes of the Criminal Code, such as if petty crimes being left to discretion. However, cases of mass demonstrations and larger micro-crisis (Brodeur, 2010) the use of body cameras may be of great importance not only in keeping an officer’s integrity intact but also used as evidence against, or for, a member of the public in front of the courts. I believe that cameras should be used with discretion of the police department in specific event or areas/populations being patrolled to ensure fairness in their actions.

Sources:

Brodeur, J.-P. (2010). The Police Assemblage. In The Policing Web (pp. 17–42). New York: Oxford University Press.

CBC. (2014, December 22). Delta police pull wristbands for Const. Jordan MacWilliams – British Columbia – CBC News. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/delta-police-pull-wristbands-for-const-jordan-macwilliams-1.2881242

Goldsmith, A. J. (2010). Policing’s New Visibility. British Journal of Criminology50(5), 914–934. 
 NBC. (n.d.). Michael Brown       Shooting – Ferguson Missouri News & Top Stories – NBC News. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from  http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting

The Vancouver Sun. (2014, October 14). Vancouver police to wear body cameras for disbanding of Oppenheimer Park homeless camp. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Vancouver police wear body            cameras disbanding Oppenheimer/10288906/story.html

Are the ‘new’ body cameras really going to solve police accountability? Or lead to more problems?

We must first begin with understanding cameras without even mentioning police officers. There are cameras in grocery stores, big malls, parking lots, streets, offices, and many other public facilities, but what it really comes down to is; does that really stop crime from happening? No! Crime is still there, people will still steal from malls, or rob cars in parking lots. Having a camera there will not change the outcome of an individual’s actus reas when their mind has already made up the decision to commit a crime. The only thing that really changes is a criminal’s way to go about the criminal activity without getting caught. Now I’m not saying having those cameras there are useless; they do provide safety, and protection for the public, and the police. The point here is that they do not stop crime from happening; it is still there regardless. Really the only difference is now one can visibly see someone stealing or committing a criminal act. The whole point of having police officers is to create a safe community. When we look at measuring safety we look at the dimensions of victim harm, and the rate of crime. To me personally if an individual’s mens rea is there, then really a camera won’t change the outcome of the act. A perfect example to really show what I am trying to get at is the ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’. This experiment had normal healthy young males who prior did not have any record of deviance, be either a guard or a prison inmate at random. Now clearly, the prisoners knew there were cameras, or at least were being watched, while the guards also knew there were cameras. That did not stop them from treating inmates inhumanly. What this means is even ‘real’ police officers will still be corrupt if that is truly where their mindset is. They will just be more careful. We can even hypothesis that new types of corruption can be created from this, like for example ‘accidently’ deleting recordings or a camera ‘breaking’ and so forth. The blue wall can also come into effect here, where there can be chances of officers covering for other officers, even with the no deleting recordings policy. Corruption exists in many ways, and those who try to get away with deception, usually find a way around the system. It has happened in the past, and can very well do so in the future.

This video shows exactly how corruption can still exist even with body cameras

The publics uproar about police accountability is really only based on three main cases, Ian Tomlinson, Robert Dziekanski, and Ferguson; two of which did not even occur in Canada. Yes, I do agree justice should be done, but that does not mean every Police officer in Canada should have their privacy invaded. If we zoom into the Dziekanski case, maybe better cameras should have been in the airport instead of blaming the whole police community of the acts of a few correction officers. The rotten apples should not spoil the rest of the barrel by making them undergo a big economical system change. Would anyone like to be on camera throughout his or her whole shift, especially for a 12-hour shift (common hours for police officers). Would a secretary at work like being filmed they’re whole shift, or would teachers like having their classroom being recorded all day. I would assume no they would not, but yet workplace, and classroom incidents are also common situations where body figures misuse their authority in Canada (Moulden et al, 2010).

Coming back to cameras, companies like Axon, and VieVu have already started making products for this new police equipment. According to the TASER’s website the ‘Axon’ body camera is designed to record easily in a wide-angle view while being light weight, and show clear footage (TASER, 2014). The police officer would wear it on their uniform and anytime they would be interaction with a civilian they would simply slide the camera lens off. Once the interaction was over they would slide the lens cover back on. They conclude with showing that the rate of complaints have fallen 87.5%. What I would like the reader to note here is that the study they show here is in only one agency of Rialto, CA which it directly says is a small town. Why have they not shown a study of a big town? We must be critical and note why there are no other agency studies posted on their website? Is it because the other ones do not show improvement? Or did they simply only take the agency that showed to have the most improvement compared to any other agency. By doing this it automatically show improvement because they are ‘marketing’; this means that they are only showing what they want ‘buyers’ to see so they can make money. Another thing to note is the graphs they show fail to go in-depth about the range they are counting for complaints, and use of force. To the naked reader we have no idea what these numbers really mean. The cost for an average body camera is typically around $400. This does not even include the chargers, docks and other gadgets that also would need to be bought. Once the camera has recorded material on it, it can then be charged into the dock where it automatically uploads to evidence.com. The material here can be accessed by police administrative bodies, and usually held for up to 180 days directed by TASER, unless it is in need for evidence. Recordings are able to be watched by the officers, but are not able to be deleted, or modified once they are uploaded. Additionally I would like to inform the reader that from all my research I was not able to find any information about new facilities that would have to open to store the recordings, or new workers that would have to be employed to manage the recordings. Articles just talk about the body cameras; people need to realize that money is not only going to be put into the cameras, but there will be money needed in other areas as well.

Tiny Police Cameras Oakland

Body cameras having been first implemented in the U.S and have made their way to Canada now. Justice officials say that if the public has cameras, so should the police. The body cameras allow the officers to safely protect the public, while ensuring they’re own safety as well. Questions about officer reliability, and accountability are being answered after watching footage. Many civilians may not use force due to knowing it will all be filmed, and vice versa. The safety of both parties here can be potentially benefited. Police officers do not have to deal with as many lawsuits that also cost tax payer’s money. Also sometimes witnesses, or victims decide to later withdraw from a case, which can cause the case to have no evidence. With the cameras there will always be evidence for the court; this can be either good or bad depending on the victims life. Police may in fact come out on top after all the criticism that they have received throughout the years. Now the public will understand that the police officer could have been justified in they’re actions. In situations of police misconduct, the police would have full accountability in cases like these because even the courts would not be able to save them. The courts would never have to feel obliged to take a police officers report as the only evidence anymore, because now they would have footage.

costs

Justice officials in New York claim that body cameras are economically beneficial in saving the city millions of dollars in lawsuits every year, which would in the end pay for all of the cameras themselves (Lopez, 2015). The world of technology is always evolving, and with the dash cams just not being able to cut it anymore; body cameras may prove to be effective on their own. In Goldsmith’s article, he establishes that phone cameras, and the media are apart of the police organization now. Police having they’re own body cameras have evolved from that. Goldsmith would say that the police too should have they’re own cameras so that they can prove what maybe the public ‘filmer’ failed to record. Most civilians only start to record once an event begins to get ‘interesting’. The police officers on the other hand would get the full footage, from beginning to end. He would claim that now accountability would go to whichever party is at true fault.

This is a beneficial way for police officers to prove they’re innocence.

Here is an video that allows viewers to see how Body Cameras are used and can be effective, and beneficial.

I would just like to conclude with one last thing, we live in a ‘democracy’. This means everyone should get the opportunity to see all of the pros and cons, and then decide if we as a community want and need the cameras, since it is affecting everyone’s privacy. If citizens, and police officers all think body cameras are necessary in today’s age, then by all means that is what should happen. I want to leave the reader thinking with one incident I once heard a retired police officer say, “A young female was about to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge…. I sat with her for two hours, and continued talking until she finally decided that life had a lot more for her…this saved her life”. I personally think if the police officer was wearing a camera the female would not have opened up as she did, and possibly the police officer may have not been able to say everything he had to as well. Not every situation should be on film, there’s times when having a camera can be invasive, and create more drama then it really needs to be. As the reader, really ask yourself is this what you would like to see in the next couple of years?

References:

AXON. (2013, January 1). City of Rialto Case Study. Retrieved February 8, 2015. http://info.taser.com/rs/taser/images/CA_Rialto_PD_Case_Study.pdf

Lopez, G. (2015, January 13). Why police should wear body cameras — and why they shouldn’t. Retrieved February 08, 2015. http://www.vox.com/2014/9/17/6113045/police-worn-body-cameras-explained

Moulden, H. M., Firestone, P., Kingston, D. A., & Wexler, A. F. (2010). A Description of Sexual Offending Committed by Canadian Teachers. Journal Of Child Sexual Abuse19(4), 403-418.

Stroud, Matt. “The Big Problem With Police Body Cameras.” Bloomberg. 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-15/police-body-camera-policies-wont-work-if-cops-dont-turn-cameras-on&gt;.

In the aftermath of the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, The President of the United States, Barack Obama, promoted the use of body-worn cameras on police officers (CBC, 2014). He called for a national reform of police accountability, and promised the citizens of the United States that body worn cameras would help mend the precarious relationship between police departments and communities. However, Obama’s grandiose promises have led the public to believe that body cameras are a “win-win” situation. The common belief is that they could hold police accountable for their actions and also protect cops who are falsely accused of wrongdoing. This blog post challenges the assumption that police-worn body cameras increase police accountability and protect officers.

Body worn cameras record interactions between law-enforcement officials and civilians. Some battery-operated cameras can be attached to an officer’s vest or helmet; others, which look like thick pens, can be connected to the arms of specially designed glasses. The recorded footage goes to a secure online server or a cloud-storage system that can only be viewed by verified administrators. The original footage cannot be deleted without approval from an administrator, and individual police departments can set their own policies regarding the management of the footage, including how long the footage is stored.

Developing official procedures to govern the use of cameras will be a tedious task. Officers should be required to have their cameras running during encounters with civilians, but will they be allowed to turn them off while they’re in their squad cars or engaging with informants who don’t want their identities revealed? Will civilians expectations of privacy be put in jeopardy by these cameras?

Another concern about these cameras is battery life. Some cameras only have a battery life of two hours, and it is possible that the cameras may not always be usable when police officers need them most. If an officer is tasked with turning the camera on and off throughout his/her shift, it may not always be feasible in emergency situations (which is typically when video footage of the incident would be most beneficial in investigations).

Furthermore, the majority of support for police-worn cameras has come from politicians and executives of companies that have a vested economic interest in this market. Time magazine published a long commentary regarding it’s support for the use of body-worn cameras, however most of the information of the article was cited back to the CEO of VIEVU, one of the largest wearable body-worn camera makers in the world (Gillespie, 2014).

Once all of the information regarding support for body-worn cameras has been sifted through, two prominent themes emerge:

1. To date, there’s a relatively small amount of empirical evidence to demonstrate that body-worn cameras improve police-civilian interactions. The first randomized controlled trial using body-worn-cameras was conducted in 2013 in Rialto, California,  across a 12 month time frame. The study focused specifically on use-of-force and citizens’ complaints, which were hypothesized to be affected by officers wearing cameras, given the possible deterrent effect of the devices on noncompliant behaviour (Ariel, Farra & Sutherland, 2014, p2). The research found a 50 percent reduction in the number of use-of-force incidents among officers wearing the cameras. Civilian complaints against police officers also dropped sharply, however the Rialto police department already generates minimal complaints in a typical year, so it’s difficult to draw conclusions. This study has been used as “evidence” for advocates of body cameras to the point of exhaustion. However, this is but one experiment and before this policy is considered more widely, police forces, governments and researchers should invest further time and effort in validating these findings with other research.

Below is a link to the full study:

http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/797/art%253A10.1007%252Fs10940-014-9236-3.pdf?auth66=1423606404_1aa4a3a1de45b41d77eda41e9871fda5&ext=.pdf

2. At this point, body-worn cameras are merely a part of politics. The vocal proponents of body cameras are mainly politicians, police chiefs and executives of body-camera companies. These groups require public approval and support to function, and because police accountability is a “hot topic” currently, advocating for body cameras on officers is simply being used as a public approval tactic. There is no consensus amongst researchers, the public nor police officers in regards to the approval or disapproval of such cameras because no sound evidence has been made available.  The only individuals and institutions adamantly pushing for these cameras are individuals who are attempting to capitalize on the emotional topic of police accountability.

Before billions of dollars are globally invested by governments and law enforcement agencies, an impartial research study must be performed, one that is not funded by any parties that have an economic interest in the results. Although the outcry for the use of body cameras has been extensively perpetuated by high profile police shootings, the public and state must come to a decision that is well-informed, and proves to be a decision for the greater good of the public and police agencies. A full impact assessment on the use of body-worn cameras must be conducted before adopting the use of them into police agencies.

Due to the two themes outline above, I cannot support the implementation of body-worn cameras on police officers. It would be irresponsible for myself, as a member of the academic community, to form an opinion without valid and reliable research to consider. For now, the state and law enforcement agencies should not economically invest in purchasing and implementing expensive programs without a more definitive and clear idea about the effectiveness of such cameras.

References

Ariel, B,. Farrar, W. A,. and Sutherland, A. (2014). The effect of police body-worn cameras on use of force and citizens’ complaints against the police: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Quantitative Criminology.
DOI 10.1007/s10940-014-9236-3

Gillespie, N. (2014). Make cops wear cameras. Time Magazine. http://time.com/3111377/ferguson-police-cameras/utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+timeblogs%2Flive+%28TIME%3A+Live+Blog%29

Obama calls for police body cameras after Ferguson shooting. Dec 1, 2014. The Associated Press.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/obama-calls-for-police-body-cameras-after-ferguson-shooting-1.2856941

A body camera is a video recording system that is typically utilized by law enforcement to record audio and video of the officer’s day-to-day interactions with the public, gather video evidence at crime scenes, and has been known to increase both officer and citizen accountability. Body cameras are small devices that are usually attached to the head or upper body of a police officer, while some miniature cameras are attached onto the glasses of police officers. It’s the latest technology being implemented into police departments across the country. Some cameras have enough battery life for a couple of hours of recording (usually 3 hours), while others can last as long as 12 hours. The cameras generally run between $200 to $1,000.

TASER

Firms such as Taser and Vievu produce body cameras for police officers. Taser’s camera model, the Axon Flex, includes two parts: a button for the officer to double-click so the camera starts recording, and a thin camera which attaches to any headgear or the officers collar using a secure magnetic mount (Lopez, 2015). On the other hand, Vievu took a slight different approach for its model. The device has a slider that turns the camera on, and is mounted onto the officers chest. Vievu stated that according to their knowledge, officers did not like wearing something on their heads for a long time.

As mentioned on Taser and Vievu’s website, all the footage being recorded runs through a secure online server that officers can access through an app on their smartphone but the main server that contains police interactions with the public which happen daily is stored on a website. Taser does not include a delete button on the camera. However, once the recording is uploaded on Tasers cloud, Evidence.com, Taser cannot view the videos as the only people allowed to view the footage are verified administrators (usually police chiefs). People must be verified to access the video, which is also recorded while they view the footage. For example, the log keeps track of what officers do to the footage, whether they apply tags to it to identify the situation or copy it for their own use. The original footage remains saved for 30 days (usually determined by the department), and the administrator receives a notification before the website deletes it. Individual police departments can also set their own policies for how videos from police cameras gets managed, who can view it, when it can be released to the media or the public, and how long footage is retained. Similar to how Taser keeps a track of the logs, Vievu logs all the user and file activity while viewing the footage. Instead of Evidence.com, the company uses a software called VeriPatrol, which allows departments to establish groups of people to see the video. Furthermore, according to Vievu’s President, Steve Lovell, the cameras include a feature called “Vidlock,” which ensures that once a camera has been assigned to a server and database, video recorded on that device can only upload to that server and database. This means cops can’t just hook their body cameras up to any old laptop with a USB cable and transfer files. Vievu also does not have any access to the videos.

images

Purely from an accountability perspective, the ideal policy for body-worn cameras would be for continuous recording throughout a police officer’s shift, eliminating any possibility that an officer could evade the recording of abuses committed on duty. However, the balance that needs to be struck is to ensure that officers can’t manipulate the video recording, while also ensuring that officers are not subjected to a relentless regime of surveillance without any opportunity for shelter from constant monitoring (Lopez, 2013). Therefore it is vital that these cameras be accompanied by good privacy policies so that the benefits of the technology are not outweighed by invasions of privacy. First, the recordings should be limited to uniformed officers and marked vehicles so people know what to expect (Stanley, 2013). Officers are required to notify people that they are being recorded. Departments also consider a policy under which officers ask residents whether they wish for a camera to be turned off before they enter a home, except in circumstances such as an emergency. However an individuals request for cameras to be turned off should be recorded to document such requests. Data should also only be retained no longer than necessary for the purpose for which it was collected. Retention periods should be measured in weeks not years, and the video should be deleted after that period unless a recording has been flagged. Videos are automatically flagged if the incident involves a use of force, leading to arrest; or a formal or informal complaint has been made. Stanley goes on to say that the use of recordings should be allowed only in internal and external investigations of misconduct, and where the police have reasonable suspicion that a recording contains evidence of a crime. Otherwise, there is no reason that stored footage should even be reviewed before its retention period ends and it is permanently deleted. People that are recorded by these cameras should also have access to, and the right to make copies of the recordings, for however long the government maintains copies of them.

The purpose for body cameras is that police can be held accountable for their actions and also protect cops who are falsely accused of wrongdoings. Furthermore they help gain public reassurance, reduce fear of crime in local communities, increase early guilty pleas, resolve complaints about the police more quickly, reduce assaults on officers, and give an unbiased view of the situation. The cameras could also encourage police, who would know that their actions are being recorded, to behave better. Peter Bibring of the American Civil Liberties Union stated “Video might not resolve every dispute, it might not guarantee indictments or discipline in every case where they’re deserved — but the chances of justice without it seem much less”. Given that police now operate in a world in which anyone with a cell phone camera can record video footage of a police encounter, body-worn cameras were introduced to help police departments ensure events are also captured from an officer’s perspective as well.

Body cameras have a few benefits as well as drawbacks. They can certainly be useful for evidence, having significant implications on behavior for both the officer and the public since they know they’re being filmed, and gives an unbiased version of the incident as it shows events occurring before, during and after the incident. However, as Goldsmith stated, putting a video out there will not always produce accountability. In fact, it act’s as a catalyst – causing a reaction from the public which then forces authorities to take considerable action. The video kicks off a reaction that eventually causes accountability in the department but the video alone does not hold accountability, it’s the catalyst that does. Police may also be opposed to the new technology as it can weigh on them. It basically makes them perform their job by the books and jeopardize their successful work.

Bibliography

Lopez, G. (2015, January 13). Why police should wear body cameras and why they shouldn’t. Vox. Retrieved from: http://www.vox.com/2014/9/17/6113045/police-worn-body-cameras-explained

Stanley, J. (2013, October 9). Police Body-Mounted Camera: With Right Policies in Place, a Win For All. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved from: https://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/police-body-mounted-cameras-right-policies-place-win-all

Stastna, K.(2014, December 5). Body Cameras: Can they reduce confrontations with police? CBC News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/body-cameras-can-they-reduce-confrontations-with-police-1.2861881

Who Is to Blame?

Posted: April 6, 2013 by wrighter12 in Policing's New Visibility, Toronto G20 2010

The 2010 Toronto G-20 Summit was the largest policed event in Canadian history. Mass amounts of officers were brought in from a number of different detachments such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Provincial Police. The events that occurred during the summit were illustrated by Gord Hill’s (2012) The Anti-Capitalist Comic Book. A number of individuals argue that the comic is biased against the security force that policed the summit, the Integrated Security Unit. However, I believe the comic demonstrates a fairly even view into both the black-bloc side as well as the police brutality side. The black-blocs are mainly comprised of anarchist protestors who dress themselves in black attire and act in a group fashion during anti-capitalist protests (dictionary.com, 2013). Scenes of destruction by the black bloc are displayed in a number of the comic slides, resulting in the vandalism of business’, destruction of police vehicles, and even a brief attack directed towards the police headquarters. Eventually a large number of the black blocs disappeared, leaving their black clothing behind.

Nonetheless, this does not justify the actions in which the I.S.U. began their defense with. Many raids took place in order to arrest protestors and organizers, a clear violation of section 9 of the criminal code protecting them against arbitrary detention and imprisonment. As well, numerous officers removed their badge and name tags, allowing them to blend in and become anonymous among the other officers while their parade of brutality began. The comic describes one scene as the officers “campaign of revenge, fueled by their humiliation at having lost control of the streets” (Hill, 2012). I believe this statement holds truth, yet it has some exaggeration attached to it as well. Yes, it can probably be shown that the officers did become frustrated with the chaos that arose from the protest and wanted to deal with it by finding those responsible. However, to state that the officers were seeking revenge due to the fact that they were humiliated is an over statement. Many of the officers were under most circumstances following orders to obtain control of the protest, which does by no means justify their actions of assault and brutality as shown in the comic. It is hard to be biased in either direction in regards to the G-20 summit in Toronto, as it has been shown that officers had played undercover roles in a number of the groups at the summit. Did the police plan to use these undercover officers to justify their deviant acts? Were they only undercover for the sake of obtaining information for the police? Or is it justifiable to place the entire blame on the police for sparking the riot through undercover officers, and then using unreasonable force against the protestors?

References: 

Hill, G. (2012). The Anti-Capitalist Comic Book

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (n.d.) Retrieved from             http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Charter_of_Rights_and_Freedoms

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/black+bloc?s=t

 

CBC Fifth Estate documentary “You Should have Stayed at Home,” is a biased depiction of the viewpoints of the citizens who were protesting. CBC and generally the media we rarely see the positive steps taken, rather the media focuses on the negative because that is what the viewers want to see. Democratic viewers wish to see where their rights are being abused. Everyone has the right to protest and no one needs to stay home.

We as a society are defined by the law, and how we should act when a representative of the law is present amongst us. However, this footage clearly shows that police being that authority figure did not represent themselves well to deserve any sort of respect or obedience from us as functioning members of the society. In this documentary, it discusses important issues such as police accountability and deviance.

Part of policing is taking accountability and being responsible. The officers removed their names and badge numbers which took away the accountability. They would not get singled out to be held responsible for their actions. The police used excessive force and did not rationally think things through. For example there was a gentlemen who only had one leg, they took away his prosthetic leg and locked him up. He even said how someone else joined him in the cell who was paralyzed on one side. The police seemed to target everyone and anyone, they did not use proper judgement in trying to stop those who were actually causing trouble.

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The police are supposed to prevent others from taking part in illegal actions, however during this summit it was the police who broke many laws. They were the ones doing things illegally, people were stripped of any rights that they had.

Innocent people and peaceful protestors were harmed. They did not do anything wrong they were exerting rights that they had. These rights were taken away by the police, even though the police had no right to treat them that way. This shows how even though no one is above the law, the police had decided that they were above it and could do anything. In this day and age there are cameras almost everywhere to record what happens in society. However, even though we have seen what happened there were no consequences for the police for what they did. Due to the names and numbers being removed it makes it harder for there to be any justice.

With the title “you should have stayed home” it implies that the police have total control over society. They decide what members of society can and cannot do. It’s almost like a “big brother” approach. They have total control over everything and no one else is able to do anything about it. If you stay at home they will leave you alone but once you’re out in public they have control and can do whatever they like and you can’t do anything about it. This is what gives policing a bad name. Although there are good and bad cops, it’s the bad ones we see in the media quite frequently as in this documentary by CBC. People should not have to “stay home” they should be able to go out into the world and give their opinion on what is happening. Police officers are there to ensure people can leave their homes without fear, however, the actions of the police show otherwise. They put fear on the streets instead of taking it off.

With the G20 summit many people wanted to have their views heard, and they were doing it peacefully. People wanted to see what was happening and they have every right to know what is happening as it impacts them directly. All those leaders met and their decisions impact society as a whole so people have rights to want to know and see what is going on. 

References

The Fifth Estate. (2011, February 25). You should have stayed home: G20 untold stories. CBC news. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2010-2011/youshouldhavestayedathome/