Wednesday, August 05, 2015

America's Funniest Videos Aren't That Funny Any More

Back during the aftermath of the Rodney King incident in 1991 and the
subsequent publishing of the video that led to three LAPD officers
being convicted and sent to federal prison, I took the time and the
effort as a watch commander with APD, to check out a video camera from
our ID section.  It was one of the typical video camera's of the era and
technology of 25 years ago. It was huge by today's standards  The
camera was shoulder operated and taped directly onto a VHS tape and it
weighed about ten pounds. 

After signing the camera out, I used that camera to video tape the officers on my watch for over a
week. Then I told them to come in early for training one night.  Once
they were assembled prior to watch, I brought out the TV and popped in
the tape.  I stood back and watched the squirming and the under the
breath comments being made for several minutes before one of the
officers finally asked: "Lieutenant?  why were you taping us?" 

I told him that I was glad that he asked that question.  I then proceeded
to explain to my watch of twenty or so officers present, that I had
taped them for no other reason than to prove a point.  The point being?
If (I) could get close enough to them to tape them unbeknownst to
them?  With that huge clunky shoulder aimed VHS camera?  The boss?  The
one guy they are always on the look out for? Then just imagine what
someone armed with one of the state of the art handheld digital cameras
(of that period) could do to tape them.

That was almost 25 years ago. A lot has changed since then concerning technology. The
advent and use of dashboard camera's has become the standard in almost
all police vehicles and presently the issuance of body camera's seems to
be the latest technological advancement for law enforcement agencies
nationally,  particularly on the heels of last summer and fall and the
highly publicized deaths in Missouri and New York of individuals
involved with police.

The advent of body cameras is not what it may seem to be though.
Those camera's are not for the protection of the individual police officer or for the purposes of
supporting or defending the officers actions. On the contrary, the
purpose of those cameras is to provide yet another layer of the onion of
examination and scrutiny of the police, once a police action has taken
place. From here on out, every time a police officer is involved in any
act of law enforcement intervention, the immediate hue and cry will be
to release and review the body camera video.  Every minute action and
every word by the officer involved will be scrutinized to the finest
detail and if their isn't any video footage of the incident in question,
immediate assertions of coverup and conspiracy will be launched against
the officer and the agency; and the fact that it wasn't video taped
will become sufficient evidence to support whatever allegations are made
against the officer/s involved.

If that isn't a bothersome enough reality for the average young officer today, the fact
that every single time they get out of their car or walk out of their
home, someone is either actively video taping them or preparing to do so
with a cell phone video camera.  Officers no longer have to worry about
some random individual with a hand held digital camera the size of a
pint of ice cream lurking in the shadows.  Now all it takes is a smart
phone to video tape anything they hear or desire and people are doing
just that.

Today's smart phones have better video camera capabilities than video cameras specifically designed for that purpose as recently as ten years ago.  And the memory chips n those
phones are more powerful than the computers that were aboard the Apollo
moon missions of forty five years ago. These camera phones of today will
provide hours of recording on a single phone's memory chip.  Officers
today should know and recognize immediately, that everyone has a phone
camera and as soon as they see the police doing anything at all, they
are immediately taping it and hoping to catch the officer doing
something that can be questioned.  Why?  Because they want to make
themselves famous and the officer in question infamous on youtube.

Therefore, it should be rightfully asked in the minds of all currently active
police officers in America......"why should I engage in any enforcement
activity, that may even remotely be called into question by a cell phone
video taken for the express purpose of questioning and vilifying my

The irony here is that the vision of the future that George Orwell envisioned
in his dystopian novel publish in 1949 is literally coming to pass.  The
greater irony is that the all seeing eyes are presently in the hands of
the public at large and they are being trained on the police.  The
fruition of Orwell's vision will come later most certainly, but only
after the existing ranks of police officers in America have been
decimated and replaced by those willing to stand aside while absolute
government control replaces and removes all individual freedom in
America.  Then is when the all seeing eyes of government will be trained
on the public and the actions of the then existing police state, will
no longer matter.

I have seen a lot of videos of police officers over the last twenty odd years.  Many of them doing
stupid and idiotic things in full view of the camera.  Many of those
videos produced by their own dash cameras during arrests and other
videos that were taken with the full knowledge of the officer involved,
that the camera was there and they were being video taped.  (COPS TV
show as an example) The simple truth and the sad reality in my
observation, is that the video taping will continue and it will increase
and at some point in the very near future, police officers will be
relegated to no more than crime scene investigators, for fear of doing
anything that might even remotely be construed as improper. 

They will no longer respond to the scene of active crimes and if they do
find themselves present at the scene of an active crime, they will
invest their time and efforts in insuring that the video being recorded
of them and by them, is sufficient to defend them.  They will be more
interested in the very real potential of accusations against them, than
they are in arresting any criminals; and they will seek to insure that
the video recordings reflects that they could not have possibly acted
improperly, because they did not act at all. 

Above is an example of both an antagonistic citizen and the questionable actions
of a police officer who knew he was being video taped.  You decide.

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