Police Video In Cincinnati, Elsewhere Tests Blue Wall Of Silence


As more police departments equip officers with digital body cameras, the blue wall of silence, the unwritten rule that officers never speak ill of one another to outsiders, is being tested perhaps like never before, says the Christian Science Monitor. The police-involved shooting in Cincinnati, and the role of two officers who may have lied about what happened to their colleague, is a case in point. Ray Tensing, a University of Cincinnati police officer until this week, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the death of unarmed motorist Samuel DuBose. Tensing alleges that DuBose put his life in danger by starting the car, which began to roll forward. His account is corroborated by testimony from two other officers.

Prosecutors say Tensing's body camera suggests that the car was slowly rolling away when Tensing appears to fire a single shot. “This whole incident is a classic illustration of the problem, where you have [other officers] reflexively supporting the officer [Tensing],” says Samuel Walker of the University of Nebraska in Omaha. “There's a lot of concern about police lying – what's called 'testi-lying' in court – and there are a lot of people who don't believe that occurs, and if it does, it's just a couple of bad cops. This incident dramatizes the seriousness of the problem, and it comes as no surprise to a lot of us who have been working on police misconduct.” A recent presidential task force on policing reform said body cameras should be part of a major thrust toward making police work more transparent and, thus, more trustworthy in the eyes of Americans, especially in poorer, crime-ridden areas.

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