A Los Angeles police officer is skeptical about a plan to install digital video cameras in patrol cars. Writing in the Los Angeles Times under the pseudonym Jack Dunphy, the officer says police officials want the cameras to help satisfy a consent decree requiring the police department to “examine and identify officers demonstrating at-risk behavior,” such as using excessive force or displaying racial bias.
Citing a dispute over whether officers had used the correct terminology to indicate whether a suspect had been advised of Miranda rights, Dunphy warns that such “obsessive punctiliousness” might be applied to the images captured by the video cameras installed in patrol cars. If that happened, Dunphy says, officers might revert to the “drive-and-wave” policing practiced under former Chief Bernard Parks. Many officers regarded Parks as a heavy-handed disciplinarian and backed off proactive policing. Arrests declined 33 percent during his time as chief, and homicides jumped 41 percent. Says Dunphy: “If you show me an officer who does things strictly by the book all day every day, I’ll show you one who doesn’t have much of an effect on crime.”