A different sort of Juxtaposition of the Day:
(via The Wire)
A bit of synchronicity which expands on the comments from yesterday's posting.
I noted then, in response to Lydia's link to petitions on the topic, that video cameras in police cars and on their persons has been shown to have a positive impact on police/public interactions, and here's a link on that topic, plus a link to the study itself.
There's been a little pushback on the price, but that's just foot-dragging: Any municipality that can afford to outfit officers with Glocks and Tasers can afford to outfit them with cameras.
There's far more talk about how the thing works both ways, that not only are officers apt to behave differently if they know there is a record of the event, but the members of the public are similarly constrained. It has support from both sides.
Obviously, that's not absolute. There have been videos posted on YouTube of "citizens asserting their rights" in routine traffic stops that are supposed to show how you don't have to take it from The Man but that, at least from this Old Man, get more of a "Why are you being such an ass?" response.
There is a time to play the game of "Who's the upholder of law here?" by flipping the situation so that you seem reasonable and the cop looks like the troublemaker, but it only works when you are being unreasonably confronted in the presence of an uninvolved crowd.
It doesn't work when you're alone and it doesn't work when the crowd is already on one side or another.
Which is to say, while discreetly getting a record of the event is not a bad idea, aggressively "asserting your rights" (or, as it is also called, "pissing off the cop") almost never works at all, and, in general, you're better off being polite and non-confrontational and letting it play out in court, not on the street.
Especially if you both know the judge will be able to review a video recording of the event, and a CopCam is a nice, non-confrontational, neutral and open way for that to happen.
Assuming the cop doesn't shut it off or pull a Rosemary Woods. The system is not perfect.
The perfect, however, should not be the enemy of the good, and working out the bugs in the rules is less critical than making sure everyone recognizes that, even when they work, cameras are hardly the only step needed to smooth things out.
The press release above lists some other community-policing practices, and the topic always reminds me of when Dick Gregory ran for president in 1968 and advocated turning police stations into community centers:
I mean, never mind Dick Gregory in 1968. What about Jacob Riis in 1902?
"Everything takes ten years," said Abram S. Hewitt, when, exactly ten years after he had as mayor championed the Small Parks Act, he took his seat as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Small Parks. The ten years had wrought a great change. It was no longer the slum of to-day, but that of to-morrow, that challenged attention. The committee took the point of view of the children from the first. It had a large map prepared, showing where in the city there was room to play and where there was none. Then it called in the police and asked them to point out where there was trouble with the boys; and in every instance the policeman put his finger upon a treeless slum.
"They have no other playground than the street," was the explanation given in each case. "They smash lamps and break windows. The storekeepers kick and there is trouble. That is how it begins." "Many complaints are received daily of boys annoying pedestrians, storekeepers, and tenants by their continually playing base-ball in some parts of almost every street. The damage is not slight. Arrests are frequent, much more frequent than when they had open lots to play in." This last was the report of an up-town captain. He remembered the days when there were open lots there. "But those lots are now built upon," he said, "and for every new house there are more boys and less chance for them to play."
The committee put a red daub on the map to indicate trouble. Then it asked those police captains who had not spoken to show them where their precincts were, and why they had no trouble. Every one of them put his finger on a green spot that marked a park.
However, the community needs to bend towards reasonability, as well, because I remember a case some years ago where an elementary school wanted police officers to adopt a classroom and come visit every week in uniform, so the kids would get used to them as people, not just scary authority figures.
But they didn't want them to wear their guns, because, y'know, can't have guns in school. The police responded, properly, that the gun is part of the uniform.
The idea that the officer is your friend until he puts on his sidearm is hardly the message anyone should be sending, to kids or to cops.
Meanwhile, I'm not too encouraged by the idea that we'd all be a lot better off today if the comedian had won the election.
Speaking of getting it all on camera
Today's "On the Fastrack" made me laugh in part because of the "citizen photographer" thing, given that one of my tasks at work is trying to persuade my young journalists to use real cameras instead of their phones and tablets.
Not "real expensive." Just "real" in the sense of having light-gathering and sharp-focus capability. You can get a camera for less than $200 that will produce print-quality photos, even indoors in less than perfect conditions.
However, it's like trying to persuade a Mac user to switch to Windows or vice-versa.
"Oh, he doesn't mean my phone/pad/electronic-pin-hole-camera. Mine has eleventy-hundred pixels!"
It also reminds me that my own wedding was shot by a newspaper photographer who not only got great, great candid shots but remained virtually invisible throughout.
The idea of candid shots has since become popular with wedding photographers.
They're still working on the invisibility thing.