Why the U.S. Should Employ Officers with the Duties of Wearing Cameras, and not Using Firearms

This article starts off by introducing the shooting, and death, of Michael Brown, while quickly adding that civilians in the United States are to more likely to be shot, than in any other rich country. Next, it explains how in 2012, the FBI recorded that 410 Americans were “justifiably” killed by police, and 409 of those killings were done with guns. The author of the article, D.K., continues on by saying that these statistics may well be an underestimate, due to the data being voluntarily reported. Following, the article brings up the country of Britain, explaining that in total, their police fired their weapons only three times and none of whom they shot were shot fatally. Additionally, when adjusted for population difference, the article quotes that it is still 100 times less likely to be shot in Britain than in the U.S. The reason, it explains, for this is because guns in Britain are essentially nonexistent, and that even the “reputation of the Metropolitan Police’s armed officers is still barely recovering from the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, in the wake of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London.”

The short article ends by explaining that in the U.S., police resort to using firearms more frequently, and that in 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed, a fraction, as it puts it, of the 9,000 murders committed by gun crime. Lastly, it explains that adding “a hyper-militarized police culture and a deep history of racial strife” will indubitably lead to police shooting citizens. Below is a photo presented on the site of a protester in Ferguson.

Here is the Link to the BBC Article: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19641398

The United States is a heavily armed country, from the federal military to local policing, but although this may seem extreme, we share this attribute commonly with most of the world. In specificity to that of armed police officers, there are some countries that do not have armed police, many of which are in the UK. This article discusses Britain specifically, and is centered on the killing of two police officers named Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, who were killed by gunshot wounds. The article goes into detail about how Britain stands firmly against arming its police officers, and how there is a slight majority of the people, but a huge majority of local police agents, who disagree with having armed police. Even with the death of these two officers, the article states that Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy was quick to say the following, "We are passionate that the British style of policing is routinely unarmed policing. Sadly we know from the experience in America and other countries that having armed officers certainly does not mean, sadly, that police officers do not end up getting shot."

The article purports that a 2006 survey proved that 82% of Britain’s own police force said no to being routinely armed. Although this is true, and ICM poll done discusses how in 2007 47% supported arming police, while 48% said that they were against arming police, while the last 5% said that they were indifferent. The story of these two police officers though, are not unheard of, as there have been police killings, but although these killings do occur, they are not frequent, and are frankly not usual to a typical situation, even a highly dangerous one. The article then follows the advice and notations made by many experts who have commented on this issue. Richard Garside, the director of the Centre for Crime and justice studies said, “[that] [t]here's a general recognition that if the police are walking around with guns it changes things[.]" Here, Garside establishes that with armed policing, it changes equilibrium of a social contract of safety that has existed for the last 183 years of Britain’s policing.

Although, Britain’s police are not routinely armed, this does not mean that they do not have access to weaponry. Each station has their own weapons department, and they are issued to use them if an emergency that requires extensive measures to be taken occurs. The article ends with former Met deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick stating that, "In terms of the police being approachable, in terms of the public being the eyes and ears of the police, officers don't want to lose that…Every case in which a police officer has shot someone brings it home to unarmed officers the sheer weight of responsibility that their colleagues face." This sense of community and equal level-ness is keen to police officers, and their proficiency as members of the law.

If police were unarmed, states and the federal government may potentially save money as a direct cause of defunding firearms. Due to an excess property program, initiated by the Department of Defense, named the 1033 Program, “the Secretary of Defense [can] transfer, without charge, excess U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) personal property (supplies and equipment) to state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs)[.]" This is why many Local Law Enforcements have militarized weaponry, especially those like SWAT, or other special tactical units.

The article goes on to say, that since the creation of the program in 1997, more than $4.3 billion in equipment has been transferred, and most notably, in 2013, the Department of Defense gave half a billion dollars of military equipment to Local Law enforcement alone. “The program provides things like office equipment, tents, generators, pick-up trucks and ATVs, according to a PowerPoint presentation on its website. But law enforcement agencies can also use it to obtain military aircraft, weapons (including grenade launchers), and heavily armored tactical vehicles.” Much of this equipment is obtained through a one-paged order form, which can be obtained via the 1033 Program’s website (if you wish to visit it, here it is: http://www.dispositionservices.dla.mil/leso/pages/1033programfaqs.aspx). There, law officials can browse selections of material, and will usually receive it within 14 days time.

Although the program does offer so much equipment to small local enforcements, it was originally set up to combat drugs, and was eventually also to be used for anti-terrorism work. The latter of the two reasons is why the program is still heavily maintained and used. Additionally though, the program itself may be a source of the loss of money due to the fact that it is more cost efficient to have this type of equipment destroyed in combat, as it usually approximates only $10,000 in damages, while retrieving the material and bringing it back to the US, to be used by local law enforcement usually costs about $50,000 in cost. For the ending of this article, the author goes on to say that local law enforcement and military enforcement should be very separate from each other, but with a program like this it blurs lines, and causes an environment where bad things are bound to happen. Below is a video, that was presented on the website to show the military grade vehicles that was used in Ferguson.

In accordance with the removal of weapons, video cameras have also been taken up as a measure to reduce police brutality. This article talks to the study that was taken by a police chief, William Farrar, in Rialto, California. Farrar, essentially did a study that equipped officer’s Tasers with a camera, besides having police officers, picked at random, to wear camera’s on their glasses or their clothes. When Mr. Farrar first introduced the program though, he stated that “it wasn’t the easiest thing to sell,” as many of his colleagues were skeptical with this study. He said in response that civilians could video to record events on their cell phones, and as so reminded them that “instead of relying on somebody else’s partial picture of what occurred, why not have your own? …In this way, you have the real one.”

In collaboration with Barak Ariel, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge and an assistant professor at Hebrew University, Farrar conducted the study, with cameras, which had a pre-event buffer which continually records and keeps the most recent 30 seconds of video when the camera is off, thus allowing members to see the initial approach of the officer to the individual, before the officer triggers on their camera for the interaction. The study concluded that with only 54% of police officers wearing the cameras at a time the department had an overall 88% decrease in complaint about officers and their activities compared to the last 12 months before the implementation of the program. Additionally, officers had a 60% decrease I use of force, going from that of 61 to 25 incidences.

The article then continued to go into the issue of privacy, posing the question, is it right for Big Brother to be watching the civilian masses? The article then states that the public and police officers are both to benefit from the situation as if protects citizens from police brutality of abuse, while protecting police from false accusations and complaints. Finally, as the article closes it says that the American Civil Liberties Union proposed the idea of how these video may be misused or abused, and should have time restraints for usage on them. This in turn prompts Mr. Farrar to purport that it is his goal to equip police officers everywhere with the cameras, as “[v]ideo is very transparent, …It’s the whole enchilada.” Below is a picture of the camera fastened to the sunglasses of officer LeDuc.

Here is the Link to the Study performed by Mr. Farrar and Mr. Ariel: http://www.policefoundation.org/content/body-worn-camera

This is the study that William Farrar and Mr. Ariel conducted. The study’s introduction starts by addressing the Rodney King case in Rialto, California, which was a case wherein Rodney King was beaten by police officers out of abuse, and those same four police members were acquitted for their charges of assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force, while then two of the members being sentenced to prison after an appeal, and the other two being acquitted again. The into then goes on to disclaim, “[a] voluminous body of research across various disciplines has shown that when humans become self-conscious about being watched, they often alter their conduct. Accumulated evidence further suggests that individuals who are aware that they being observed often embrace submissive or commonly accepted behavior, particularly when the observer is a rule-enforcing entity.”

Continuing on, the study begins talking about self-awareness and how “[w]e experience public self-awareness, become more prone to socially acceptable behavior and sense a heightened need to cooperate with rules. Getting caught doing something morally or socially wrong is often registered as behavior that can potentially lead to negative consequences, which is an outcome rational individuals tend to avoid. Several experiments in social psychology have uncovered a propensity to avoid negative outcomes, and the findings generally agree that individuals react compliantly to even the slightest cues indicating that somebody may be watching.” Accordingly, after the explanation of the social experiment’s scientific method, quantitative data is given:

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