8/10/15 Hartford City Council Meeting – Debra Cohen Testimony on Police Body Cameras

The time for the mandated use of body cameras by all police officers is not now, it was YESTERDAY. While not a guarantee that police conduct will evolve into a trustworthy exercise that we can all count on, it will certainly raise the bar on our expectations of appropriate behavior.

However, without certain safeguards, any plan to equip officers with body cameras will be an exercise in futility. I suggest the following as merely a start. I’m sure there are many other ideas that citizens will be able to add to this list – citizens who, unlike myself, have an even higher stake in police responsibility and accountability.

1.Body cameras must come with the guarantee from a responsible and accountable person or organization that they are tamper proof.
2.Any incident in which a police officer and citizen fall outside of camera view, for any reason, must be subject to independent investigation.
3.In the event that an investigation is warranted, all investigations should be conducted by a combination of a law enforcement agency totally separate from the police department involved and representatives from the community who also have no connection to said police department. Friends and associates cannot be counted on to provide objective evaluation.

Many schools have cameras in classrooms to monitor teacher interactions with students. Many streets have cameras to monitor our driving behavior. Surely, police behavior that has the potential toto result in the possible arrest, incarceration and sadly, bodily harm to the arrestee, warrants the same if not heightened scrutiny.

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