I'm Not That Big on National Mandates, But...

...requiring dash cameras in every police vehicle would be a great idea.  Via Radley Balko, of course, video in his post here.

I do think Ms. Harmon has her lawsuit a bit misdirected.  I don't think Tasers per se are the problem.  If this guy didn't have a Taser, it would just be a nightstick or physical force.  The issue is that many police act as if they are dictators of the local area within their line of sight.


  1. rsm:

    Tasers are a part of the problem. It lowers the bar for taking action because it has 'no consequences'. It doesn't kill, so less admin, and you don't have to engage the person up close. I.e. a 6'4" guy attacking a housewife in front of her kids is going to look ridiculous, and he might have gotten a car door in the shins or a knee to the balls and still gotten hit with assault charges. The Taser reduces the risk of the aggressor to near zero and the option becomes much too easy to use and it looks like a 'police action' rather than a thug beating up on a random passerby.

    In some ways I think that people underestimate the 'ease' of a physical attack, the bar may be lower for cops now than it was before, but when your options are physical attack or lethal force there are significant risks either way unless you have backup (a la a number of the 'physical assault: sodomy' situations where there are several cops involved). I don't say that there are not other issues involved, but the Taser has lowered the bar for a response from police and thus we are seeing more, and more problematic actions which is happening at the same time we're having a large number of other issues with the police as well.

  2. Tudorman:

    Even more effective perhaps would be OEM or aftermarket vehicle mounted cameras for the general motoring population. Then let the watchers know they're being watched.

  3. Michael:

    What is the illogic of thought of this officer. He could not think he was in any danger. He put his weapon back in to his holster so he could use both arms to pull this woman from the car for the sole purpose of having a clean shot once he again pulled the weapon from its holster. Citizens need to be able to file criminal assault charges against these officers and DAs need to prosecute.

    The Palin case sums things up nicely. Her nephew was tased at home by his step father cop acting as a private citizen. The guy got a week off with out pay. Any non cop parent would be doing jail time. The line of conduct and law between cop and non cop has grown to far.

  4. me:

    @Tudorman - I like the watching the watchers idea. Fundamentally, this is a problem of attitude, though. Police officers in this country in general see their job as dominating the populace and exercising power at all costs. But it's not only police officers - they are not held in check by their superiors or judges, either. Compare to police in other countries who see their job as solving crimes and keeping the peace.

  5. Jody:

    Compare to police in other countries who see their job as solving crimes and keeping the peace.

    I fear you have a romanticized view of cops in other countries.

  6. Jim Collins:

    I would rather see these cameras transmit their data to a central collection point that the Police do NOT have access to. I have witnessed two seperate occasions where the Defense was told that the camera was not working or that the video footage was lost or written over. Both of these were DUI checkpoint stops where people other than the driver of the vehicle were ordered to take breathalyzers and were cited with Disorderly Conduct and Public Drunkeness when they refused.

  7. nom de guerre:

    when police corruption - in this case, defined as "willingness to disable, lie about or sabotage video/audio records of their actions; and cheerfully perjure themselves if asked about it, because they know it'll be a cold day in hell before a cop is tried for perjury" - when it becomes so bad that a new verb has to be invented to describe it, ("testilying").... when it gets so bad that the wall st. journal (!!) - not previously known to be a leftwing rabblerousing rag - writes about it in a front-page article, as they did recently..... when it gets so bad that ma and pa kettle, clean as a whistle and having a spotlessly clean record, gets arrested/tased/beat up by the cops for a *driving* incident.....

    it's time to wake up and realize the cops have become an occupying army accountable only to themselves. the **system** isn't gonna change them: prosecutors and DA's have to keep the cops on their side, since the cops can torpedo any case by "accidentally" screwing up on any of a thousand procedural imperatives. so no cop will ever be charged with lawbreaking unless there's just no way around it. (think the rodney king cops.) mix that in with the infamous usage of jury-stacking ("voir dire"), and you'll continue to see the cops get ever more out of hand. cop-jock-sniffing dimwit jurors have set free probably 95% of the cops who DA's were reluctantly forced to prosecute - lon horiuchi walked away a free man in idaho, and promptly flew to waco where he presumably did that ol' horiuchi magic on the unarmed women and children at the mt. carmel complex - and the cops see this and respond accordingly. balko - pseudolibertarian ("i think obama will protect our freedoms better than mccain will") hypocrite that he is - has compiled quite an impressive little dossier on cops tasing grannies and 10-year-old schoolkids on video; shooting tail-wagging lapdogs on video; arresting ambulance drivers trying to get their sick patients to the hospital for not 'respectin' mah authoritah!" enough on video; and beating the hell out of mouthy handcuffed women on video and getting away clean.

    fun with math: if the cops get only 10% worse a year, over-tasering and brutality-wise, that means their brutality level doubles every 7 years. i'm not sure when we the people will finally realize they're out of control. maybe if they start wearing purple capes and referring to themselves in the 3rd person?

  8. me:

    @Jody - I've lived in Germany, France, the US and China. I've vacationed in a dozen more, not that that counts. So, I've spent a lot of the time in romantic countries ;)

    Trust me when I say that US police behavior is most reminiscent of police in countries that tend not to have much of a democratic tradition of freedom.