After Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, a public outcry finally brought police body cameras to the St. Louis suburb. But will the equipment be enough to hold police officers accountable for their actions?
Co-founder of We Copwatch Jacob Crawford -- an admitted skeptic of law enforcement -- doesn’t think so. In a conversation with HuffPost Live on Wednesday, Crawford explained how his experience in watching and recording police encounters makes him doubt the effectiveness of the new cameras.
“We don’t have access to these cameras,” he told host Alyona Minkovski. “They do malfunction at some interesting and peculiar times. ... This is a police-initiated program, so I’m highly suspicious of it.”
While police body cameras have been instituted in other cities like Oakland and Albuquerque, Crawford has not been impressed with the results. As he explained, civilian oversight may be more effective in ensuring accountability. For example, “copwatchers” on his team record video footage of police encounters from "10 or 15 feet away,” but the close proximity of a body camera can easily misrepresent crucial aspects of the scene.
“Body cameras are way too close to be able to show the whole story,” he said. “This body camera doesn’t tell the whole story. They’ll say somebody was doing something outside of the camera or before they turn the camera on.”
Crawford said the cameras are “not really about transparency” and serve only the interests of law enforcement.
“We really need to reexamine whether we want these cops with these cameras,” he said. “Anything that’s initiated by the police is for the police. It’s not for the people. So if you keep that in mind, I would be extremely mistrustful.”
Watch the full HuffPost Live Conversation about police accountability here.
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