I believe police body cameras with online live feeds on every operating officer in the field and net-accessible by all should be a top priority for our overgrown government that is recklessly spending billions on useless and tyrannical purchases every year.
A live feed camera attached to every officer’s clothing would be similar to the police radios they already carry,the police scanners within every police vehicle, and the recording cameras in squad cars, except go to the proper capability in protection and in level of transparency.
As many people find out when there is a police-situation that grabs the media’s attention, police scanners have live scanner feeds that are listenable online for those who search for them. The cameras within squad cars can in some cases be called to court, although there are many cases where the videos or recording equipment “malfunctions” or the video is “lost”. A police body camera would go to the necessary lengths required for protection of individual Rights and accountability of government agents.
This isn’t as far-off as many would have you believe either. Back in May, one New York Judge hearing a case on the notorious stop and frisk policy, whereby random Americans are detained and searched, with or without consent, by the tens of thousands, stated that the only way the program could be made accountable was with police body cameras. (UPDATE: Today Stop and Frisk was ruled Unconstitutional by a Federal Judge who says the program violated tens of thousands of New York resident’s Constitutional Rights)
Situations in which cops are undercover are not a problem; respective cops can still utilize these cameras, but remain private until the investigation has ceased, and then be posted online, and/or when called into court for the “more classified”.
There are roughly 800,000 law enforcement authorities in the United States under federal, state, and local departments. And since 1990, the Department of Defense has distributed 4.2 Billion + dollars in military equipment to police departments for use in “policing” Americans, which over 23 years, is a little more than 182 million dollars in equipment per year.
Police departments boast tens of millions in funding every year, always “policing” in a competition for more crime and more funding. As an example, this competition was recently exposed in Miami
, where some officers were found to have salaries up to 225,000 dollars per year, and provoking millions in lawsuits, which all draw funds from tax-money and government-debt.
These minor statistics do not even cover the amount of money “police work”, a drug war, and other wars have cost Americans over the past years and decades. And outfitting 800,000 law enforcement agents with live feed cameras would only cost more, 80 million or more simply for the cameras, at 100 dollars a piece. This doesn’t take into account the servers for storage, the data usage, and more necessary components,but also does not even reach the amount that is being considered to fund these law enforcement agents, the amount that is already going to them, or liability.
There are too many wasted hours by government employees, too many court cases where officers are in the wrong and not held accountable, too many officers who overstep their bounds and motivate others to do the same, and too many individual rights violated to not have a live feed for every operating officer.
Companies that have grown into corporations have multiple ways of monitoring their employees activity for a plethora of reasons. Our own government monitors and stores data traded and communicated between Americans without their permission and in totality. Government employees are held accountable to their bosses and security systems with IDs, bio-metrics, tracking, and more.
Holding police accountable with a live feed that has the capability of going private, but for most recording, is online, accessible by any and every person with access is not a cause for concern in their security or privacy, but a protection for our individual Rights. There is no justice in a system where individuals are wrongfully harassed, assaulted, or imprisoned. And there are certain Oaths and truths every officer must take and understand when taking the job, and it is not a job for everyone, and that has to be accepted. It is a job for those who are willing to put themselves at risk and in danger. With that said, a corrupt officer puts everyone at risk and in danger, including other officers.
Just knowing that someone is watching your activity has been proven to cause better behavior. That is not a reason to have an agency like the NSA-because the behavior of individuals has nothing to do with others until it infringes-but a reason to use technology like the NSA on those who are paid with taxes and whose decisions affect everyone and infringe on everyone involuntarily. And in cases where a government employee takes something too far, or where a criminal creates a situation that requires more investigation and information, a camera with a live feed and recording only improves the situation.
The equipment and cameras that police already use record everything but on-foot interaction, so the effects on the privacy rights of individuals is not changed with police body cameras, if not more-protected. But there is the situation in which the interaction with an officer goes inside a home, or inside an office, in the case of raids, and into personal information, in the case of conversation.
There isn’t really something I can “come up with” to excuse the recording of a raid, other than the fact that many raids are recorded, and many are not, and that I would personally rather have the protection of a live-feed than what privacy is lost with a recorded video with a live feed inside my home or place of work. The live-feed would actually reduce these situations, because they would be under complete transparency, and that fact would reduce many other rights-violations, if not also reducing the spending and funding that goes towards militarized equipment and wrongdoing. And in the case of private conversation, I’ve always been advised that everything said can be presented in a court of law, and that lawyers are better at conversing, leaving what the officers say to each other and you/forget to say recorded.
It’s hypocritical of me to say I support the funding it would take for police body cameras and live feeds, or the privacy concerns for individuals-not government employees-but in the case where the aforementioned funding is occurring and is increasing, and where 50,000+ raids occur on Americans each year, I see no other way than cutting and gutting programs and agencies-which I would support- to protect the Rights of the individual.
If we believe our Rights are not limited by technology, and are in-fact natural, then we must act upon that fact. That requires that we utilize the technology necessary to hold government employees accountable if government grows to this level. The national discussion right now concerns the many wrongdoings of multiple federal agencies, but not the cutting or elimination of their funding, nor the accountability of the individual government employees who committed wrongdoings. These facts do not correlate with a society that is free, but they do correlate with a society that is in dire need of freedom. Until we take action and seize the opportunity and create the necessary institutions and protections, we will continue to reap what we have sown.
Let me know what you think about police body cameras with live feeds and internet access in the comments. I do understand the clear conflict here with the philosophy of the non-aggression principle and Libertarianism. Most Libertarians understand that without a virtuous people, a free society cannot exist, and playing devil’s advocate, until that time, is it not better to redirect funds already being used to a protection that would actually fall within the very-small realm of government privilege and prevent gross-violations of respective Liberties? Donations from individuals and organizations could of course be enabled, along with advertising space for companies willing to take a risk on a host-site for live feeds that could draw many views.