Police body cameras hold the promise of accountability, but carry the risk of becoming another tool of surveillance aimed at communities that are already heavily over-policed and heavily surveilled. BORDC/DDF has created guidelines governing the use of police body cameras and the videos they produce.
The people have the right to film the police under the First Amendment, but police do not always respect this right. Police are prohibited from destroying devices or images by both the 14th Amendment’s due process clause and the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement. The Local Civil Rights Restoration Act provides model language to protect the right to film the police.
Sessions has a long and documented history of opposing the rights of vulnerable populations, disregarding the First Amendment, and championing torture. As Attorney General, Sessions would be head of the department in charge of overseeing the protections of civil rights and the most powerful law enforcement in the nation. Given his historic hostility to civil liberties this is unacceptable. Sessions was rightfully rejected as a judicial nomination and should be similarly rejected for Attorney General.
In January, the Baltimore Police Department began a months-long partnership with an Ohio-based private company known as Persistent Surveillance Systems. Persistent Surveillance was hired to conduct hundreds of hours of aerial surveillance over the city of Baltimore using specialized cameras mounted to a Cessna that patrolled 32 square miles of the city.
Community leaders should press state and local agencies, and the FBI, to be fully transparent about how they use face recognition; if those agencies refuse, advocates should use state and federal Freedom of Information laws to take them to court. Advocates should also press city councils, state legislatures, and law enforcement for laws and use manuals that protect individual liberties and civil rights.
The response by North Dakota and Morton County to the Water Protectors highlights several very serious issues plaguing our country. It brings to the forefront the legacy of colonialism and racism, that has culminated in the disrespecting of the sovereignty of indigenous people, as well as, the use of state violence against those who try to retain their sovereignty. It is part of a larger trend of law enforcement viewing democracy as the enemy and responding to protest with military style gear and tactics. Finally, it demonstrates the willingness of the state to trample on dissent in order to defend corporate profits. “
DOJ has to go back to the drawing board and come up with some clear rules for law enforcement at all levels to take responsibility for reporting who it is they are killing. As Director Comey said, “It’s ridiculous — it’s embarrassing and ridiculous…”