Prevalent Video Called “Absolute Check On Police Integrity”


Two decades after a videotape of police beating a black man helped trigger Los Angeles riots, ubiquitous video-recording technology is bringing new scrutiny to the accounts of law-enforcement officials around the nation, says the Wall Street Journal. The shooting of an unarmed black man by a white policeman in South Carolina, which a bystander captured on video, helping lead to murder charges Tuesday against the officer and prompted more calls to require body cameras for all law-enforcement officers. The 1991 Rodney King case in California “was probably the first example where video had a searing effect on images of the police,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “The public expects transparency and accountability.”

Last week, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton placed a detective on desk duty and stripped him of his badge, gun and assignment after he was caught on cellphone video berating a taxi driver in an expletive-filled, xenophobic tirade. “No good cop can watch that without a wince,” Bratton said. “That officer's behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears our uniform.” In Fort Lauderdale, Fl., last week, an officer was charged with battery and falsifying a police report after a video showed him slapping a homeless man. On Thursday, a camera crew on a news helicopter captured San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies kicking and punching a suspect who fled on horseback. Sheriff John McMahon called the video “disturbing” and ordered an internal investigation. “The video camera has become omnipresent,” said Richard Aborn, president of Citizens Crime Commission of New York City. “Virtually nothing happens without some video, and it has become an absolute check on police credibility.”

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