In 2015, just a few hours’ drive south of New York, residents of Baltimore rioted in protest over police brutality. As the riot grew more and more out of hand, residents set fires to buildings and cars. Baltimore burned for two days. Experts say the rage had simmered for years as residents filed more than 100 lawsuits alleging police brutality between 2011 and 2014.
New York has had its own problems with police brutality over the years, including several allegations of corruption and false arrests. Many people now wonder if cellphone video footage is the answer. While footage from police bodycams do not always surface, many people live stream police interactions on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to protect themselves.
According to CNN, video footage from victims and passersby have helped to bring many police officers to justice, forcing police chiefs to make a stand and demonstrate that the few rogue officers do not represent the entire department. Others believe this is no publicity stunt from police chiefs. The chiefs may not only wish to prove to the public that they are upholding their sworn oaths to serve and protect. They are doing it because it is the right thing to do.
What is most disturbing to some onlookers is the fact that some police officers do not seem to care when they are being videotaped. They ignore not only that other people are capturing footage, but also that their bodycams and dashcams record interactions.
Thus, it is difficult to tell how different police officers may react to being recorded and whether or not it will result in changed or appropriate behavior. What remains certain is that the footage may be what stands between the word of a charged — or dead — civilian and that of officers of the law with the power to arrest, testify and even prosecute in the very incidents in which they had a hand.