To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Armed with Video Cameras

Good article in the Baltimore Sun today on citizens video taping police officers.
Drive though some Baltimore neighborhoods at night and it quickly becomes obvious: The blinking blue-light cameras show the police are watching.

But the police also are being watched.

Citizens armed with cameras - even in their cell phones - are filming officers in action, sometimes with unflattering results.
That's a fair point when talking about the supposed controversy surrounding the act of taping police officers. If I leave my house and walk west on Washington Blvd, I am guaranteed to be on film for more than 8 blocks. No doubts about it, every time I do it, I'll be captured on film by the city. I'm not a criminal*, but the camera captures you whether you are committing a crime or not, or whether you have the intent to commit a crime or not.

The logic is that the blue-light cameras will prevent crime from happening, or allow police to solve more crimes that do occur. The cameras don't actually accomplish those goals, but nonetheless that's why they are there. Plus, if you aren't doing anything illegal, what do you have to fear? It's fucked up. That logic shouldn't apply to innocent citizens who, for perfectly reasonable reasons, feel uncomfortable about being filmed by their frequently abusive government. But that logic should be applied to government agents, who are given immense amounts of power and responsibilities, and -- last time I checked -- supposedly worked for the taxpayers.
Some police officers don't like the new reality that they can be under surveillance by the citizenry.

"I think that cops are terrified of video cameras," said Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who is now a sociologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "I think the end result is cops will police a little more carefully.
Uh, this is a good thing, right? 'Cause, if cops are more careful with their power that's a net positive for everyone, right? Better community relations, less complaints and lawsuits, and most importantly -- fewer people getting the shit kicked out of them.
But officers do have some reasons to fear the lens. Recently retired Lt. Frederick V. Roussey said that in his 29 years on the force he used to encounter suspected gang members who would walk up to his officers and take pictures of them with their cell phones.

"If I had someone doing it, I would go over and grab the phone," he said. "It would be like, 'No way.'" Roussey said he feared that gangs were compiling electronic hit lists of officers.
Bullshit. To the best of my knowledge one police officer was killed in all of 2007. He wasn't even on-duty, he was robbed, and shot to death while returning home from work. Just like other innocent Baltimore residents who aren't adequately protected by our failing city services. According the Baltimore Police Department's website, the last officer killed on-duty, in a non-traffic related accident, was in 2004. Almost 4 years ago. If thugs in west Baltimore are compiling electronic hit lists of cops, they aren't making much headway on them. Which is surprising, because if there is one thing Baltimore criminals are good at, it's killing people. Most likely, criminals understand that killing a cop is bad for business, so they tend to avoid it. But forget about logic; let's look at the facts. In the same period that one police officer was shot to death, on-duty, we've had 49 fatalities at the hands of police officers. 49. 49-1. With that ratio, who needs to be filmed?

*I use the term "criminal" and "not" loosely. I do not consider the occasional Pigtown tranny pick-up to be a crime. I hardly ever pay; most time I just trade them drugs for oral sex**

**ATTN Baltimore PD: This is not a confession of illegal acts (although I'm not sure I want to live in a country where trading crack for a blow job is illegal), this web site is merely for entertainment purpose only and should not be taken seriously.

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