Surveillance Response to Michael Brown Shooting
A week after the grand jury agreed not to put Officer Darren Wilson on trial for shooting teenager, Michael Brown, riots have filled the country. Tear gas hangs in the streets like fog or a cloud of injustice. It seems that protesters do not agree with the verdict of the grand jury and deem the violent murder of Michael Brown as an unjust act of racism against African Americans.
Protesters want their voices to be heard and their outcries have traveled through the veins of the country, all the way to the White House. While President Obama has heard their cries of outrage, he urges for peaceful protests and assures protesters that “This is not a problem just of Ferguson, Missouri. This is a national problem. But it’s a solvable problem.”
President Obama then proceeded to request $263m (£167m) from Congress to improve police training, pay for body cameras and restore the public’s trust in police enforcements. Already some officers in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri have started wearing these body cameras, but the largest task force so far to start wearing them is the New York Police Department (NYPD).
However, despite the support from some police officers, Chief Al Townsend of Poulsbo, Washington did not agree with Obama’s decision to implement surveillance cameras on police officers. He said “There are also privacy concerns. If an officer responds to a call at your house in some cities, all the video recorded inside is public record. “People with mental illness, people in domestic violence situations,” said Chief Al Townsend of Poulsbo, Washington. “Do you really want to put that video out on YouTube?”
Both sides of the argument are compelling; however, the pros of implementing cameras on police officers outweigh the cons. The influx of these body cameras are completely transforming America’s police task forces and are restoring the public’s trust in law enforcements. The Justice Department has provided evidence that both civilians and police officers behave better knowing they are on camera. Therefore, it seems that although the death of Michael Brown may have been unjust, it may have been the sacrifice to prevent any more similar crimes or deaths like it.