Glitches In TX Woman’s Arrest Video Raise Police Camera Issues


Officials in Texas say they will post a corrected version of a police dash cam video of Sandra Bland’s arrest, but the Christian Science Monitor says glitches in the first posting “triggered a rash of mistrust and skepticism online yesterday night from journalists, activists, and even the director of the film ‘Selma.’ ” The incident raises broader concerns, such as when or how it is appropriate to edit police camera footage. It's not yet apparent what caused glitches in the Bland video, but there are technological questions around police cameras, as well as legal and ethical questions.

With the use of police body cameras growing, experts say the need to answer these questions is getting more urgent. Last week, the release of dash cam video of a police shooting in Gardena, Ca. more than two years after the incident raised questions over if, how and when such footage should be made public. Criminal justice Prof. Tod Burke of Radford University, a former Maryland police officer, says the immaturity of the technology and police policy means the issues are very much in flux. “So much of this is in its infancy. It's in an experimental phase, and you want to be able to iron it out,” he says. In some cases, he says footage “gives the appearance or the perception that there's wrongdoing when in fact there [may be] no wrongdoing.”

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