Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bodycams and Police Integrity

This week had an event happen that just confirmed something that advocates for police reform have been saying for years:  There are dirty cops who will plant evidence on people they want to arrest, and that behavior is tolerated if not abetted by a large number of other officers.  

For anyone living under a rock, the incident I'm referring to is this:

The short version if you don't care to view the video and read the accompanying article is that Officer Pinheiro attempted to turn off his bodycam, while he planted some drugs at the scene of an arrest. Then left the scene, tried to turn the bodycam back on, and returned to "find" the drugs.  Obviously the case associated with this incident has been dismissed by the DA's office, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.

There are three officers at the scene and the bodycam clearly shows the two other officers watching while Officer Pinheiro planted the drugs.   Even more distrubing, the DA's office seems perfectly happy to continue to use Officer Pinheiro's testimony in other criminal cases.  At this point the Officer has zero credibility, and I would argue that any officer who worked with him should be viewed with deep suspicion, too.

We can assume one of two things about this incident: Either it was a completely one-off incident and shock, alone, was why the other officers made no protest on the video.  Or it's fucking routine, and they're used to it.

I know which way I'd lean.  

This is why bodycams that record only at the command of the officers in question is such a bad idea.  It's not that I believe that all cops are dirty, I really don't.  I do think that currently most police officers associations are so spineless, they care more about protecting crooks, bullies and rapists in their ranks than they do about protecting and serving the public.  One of the best ways to start restoring some sense of faith in the police of this nation would be to require body cams that start recording as soon as the officer begins his or her shift, and only stops after they return to clock off their shift.

And until police officer's associations, DAs and the (In)Justice Department start taking action in that direction, I'm forced to believe that their priorities lay more with protecting abusers than in serving the public.