Ypsi cops to wear body cameras; Chris Rock interview raises a couple of interesting points to share here

This is kind of a tangent post (as I really try to keep this site pretty squarely about EMU most of the time), but given some of the conversation/campus events lately, I thought I’d go ahead and point these things out.

First, it turns out that “Ypsilanti police will be wearing body cameras by March.” This story is from mLive, but I’ve heard about it on NPR too. I believe Ypsi is the first place in Michigan where this is happening. No one should kid themselves into thinking that this is going to “solve” the problem of police shootings like what happened in Ferguson, but a) if Darren Wilson had been wearing a body camera, I think we would have had at least some additional evidence about what happened when Michael Brown was killed, and b) when cops have had to wear body cameras (notably in California), incidents of police brutality/shootings went down like 80% (though I don’t have that citation on that one right in front of me or anything).

Second, there’s a great interview of Chris Rock making the rounds now that is totally worth reading even if you are only sorta/kinda a fan. One loyal EMUTalk.org reader suggested I share it because of what he had to say about college campuses:

What do you make of the attempt to bar Bill Maher from speaking at Berkeley for his riff on Muslims?

Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

In their political views?

Not in their political views—not like they’re voting Republican—but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

When did you start to notice this?

About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.

I think he kind of has a point, though I personally think Maher’s “riff on Muslims” was pretty ignorant.

Then there’s also a longer (too long for me to just cut and paste) and interesting take on the mess in Ferguson. Among other things, Chris Rock says if he was reporting on it, he’s interview white people because “We know how black people feel about Ferguson.” Smart stuff.

5 thoughts on “Ypsi cops to wear body cameras; Chris Rock interview raises a couple of interesting points to share here

  1. NPR had an interesting guest on to talk about police body cameras yesterday. He noted that the typical model sort of overwrites like a black box until the officer affirmatively pushes a button to start recording. Which makes me wonder- are officers who fail to record an incident where the citizen alleges mistreatment presumptively guilty? I’d imagine that the cameras would be meaningless if not. The guest also mentioned that in one jurisdiction, *reports* of police mistreatment were down over 80% after body cameras were instituted, which the guest chalked up to keeping citizens honest, too. I’m inclined to agree, though I may be biased by once having worked in processing nonsense grievances written against a government agency by people in a misguided effort to get their way.

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  2. I think cameras will help limit lawless thug cops from intimidation and brutality —- ignorant stuff that has been going on for far too long. It could also protect the cops in more ways too – which is a good thing for everyone.

    But in situations like Ferguson, would it have helped? I mean, in a grappling contest when its person-on-person, my guess is that you would not see much. It would be shaky and muffled and smothered … Maybe there would be some audio. Maybe you could see the end when they separated but for those that think this is a cure-all, I doubt it.

    I know there is a case in Calif — the officer never activated his camera and ended up killing someone …

    And, as someone else wrote, even if there is clear video that does not mean justice is served (or not served.)

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    • Clearly, it’s not a complete solution as we’re seeing with the lack of inditement in the Garner killing. But I think John Stewart got it right when he said with the Ferguson situation, because there was no video evidence and and conflicting eye-witness testimony, you could at least say that the circumstances of what exactly happened were debatable. With Garner, not so much, which is what makes that situation (IMO) all the more troubling. And it’s also why this case is more likely to be taken up in Federal court, too.

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