Maybe Obama's Body Cameras Won't Make a Difference

Police have to turn them on, after all

After the announcement that a grand jury has decided not to indict a New York police officer in the choking death of Eric Garner, The Washington Post is questioning whether or not President Obama's $75 million request for police body cameras will be effective in building trust between police and the black community.

One case in point is the cell phone video made by a spectator that clearly shows a white NYPD police officer subduing Garner, a black man, with a chokehold. Faced with clear video evidence and police and eyewitness testimony, this grand jury reached the same verdict as the grand jury did in the Ferguson case, which was not captured on video.

The Post notes that the president is relying somewhat on the information from a study of the Rialto, California police department whose department saw an 88% decrease in complaints after they instituted body cameras. But it also mentions that black activists now have some fuel to add to their argument that body cameras aren't the "cure-all" they're purported to be.

Reason.com points to another instance that brings the use of body cameras into question involving the Albuquerque Police Department.

One of their officers was fired because his body camera was off during an incident in which he fatally shot a 19-year-old woman suspected of stealing cars. The officer insisted that he switched it on but the manufacturer could not determine the truthfulness of the his statement.

A quote appears in The Post's article echoing this specific issue: 

Antoine White, a hip-hop artist from St. Louis who is known as T-Dubb-O, said of body cameras during an interview, 'I still consider it a Band-Aid' on a much larger problem. 'Giving a policeman a camera does not prevent him from shooting me in the head,' he said, noting officers at times don't turn on the cameras.

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