PPF Blog

Police Body Cameras as networked-public policy initiative

From terrible news from Ferguson last night – my thoughts are with the families of those affected and I’m inspired by the protesters.

Michael Brown’s family wrote, in part, “Join us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera” (http://goo.gl/P7x4fC). More background on Think Progress’ solid overview from August (http://goo.gl/U5QAXn), noting cameras are clearly not a panacea, and more info in Vox Media explainer (http://goo.gl/uXWFtP).

Again, body cameras alone are not a sufficient step towards addressing the systemic racism & injustice of U.S. criminal practices and profit-making entities (http://goo.gl/dd8I6F), but they are an empirically-proven first step towards rehabilitating community trust and improving policing outcomes and more-fair trials. One of the leading experts on police militarization (cited here in this, well, discouraging but well-researched article by Evan McMorris-Santoro: http://goo.gl/t8py5j) is Radley Balko (https://twitter.com/radleybalko).

Here’s a great letter from NAACP President of LDF Sherrilyn Ifill on comprehensive police reforms & new incentives for trainings & performance: http://goo.gl/vVKUW2 (via Baratunde). Recent body cameras bill in Baltimore – article from Nov. 10th in the Sun: http://goo.gl/4BdXIV.

I’d like to hear more on which advocacy organizations have capacity to train & deploy dedicated community organizers to effect police de-militarization, and points of leverage with state & municipal elected officials & public figures in jurisdictions nationwide. It would be encouraging, in times like tonight, to be able to productively share boilerplate policy on, say, body cameras – between city legislative networks and prompt far-wider adoption and best practices. Definitely lots more voices of criminal justice system reformers to hear from as well, from neighborhood groups standing up to police brutality every day to fostering better government accountability & trial-procedure oversight. Interested in hearing more.

Last, I wrote last week on how all the (justified) anger and grief on social media from #Ferguson can be channeled from these commercial services, such as Facebook & Twitter, into powerful public petitions that actual drive real policy reforms and force official government responses, far-wider debate & investment – we’re not there yet, but I hope that’s where we’re headed, to harness the potential of free & open technology for community organizers and meaningful policy reform: http://goo.gl/4ko6ag.

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