Another long, hot summer, another black man’s death by cop. This time, the violence is played out in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Stomach-churning video shows an officer shoot Alton Sterling at point-blank range in the head while Sterling is subdued on the ground.
This, of course, is just the daily dose of gun violence and police brutality making more emotionally immune because these violent acts are so frequent.
The nation is fiercely polarized over racial matters. The NRA and gun advocates are hell-bent on not giving in to even modest gun reform proposals. Gun violence is a 24/7 occurrence.
The only thing that may help us, besides a meteorite and humanity do-over, is technology.
Police and The Body Cam Politic
There are many technologies proposed to curtail police misconduct and deaths at the end of a gun barrel.
For police brutality, officers wearing body cams is an obvious solution. Yet, it’s one far from perfect.
After Michael Brown was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-5) introduced H.R. 5865, the Camera Authorization and Maintenance Act.
The H.R. 5865 bill requires law enforcement agencies to supply officers with body cameras or risk losing federal funding. It also proposes a way to help agencies purchase cameras.
As of January 2014, the bill still sits in subcommittee. [I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill…]
Watchdog groups and think tanks such as The Cato Institute suggest there is evidence that incidents of police misconduct are reduced when officers wear body cams. However, critics say issues of privacy and logistics with data storage and retention make body cams for law enforcement hard to mandate.
Then there’s this: The two officers involved in Sterling’s death wore body cams. All police in Louisiana are equipped with them.
However, the body cams were reported as having “fallen off” during the incident with Sterling, by the officers.
Hence, the problem with cams. Unless they are embedded into officers’ bodies, they can be powered down, covered up, or can “fall off.”