I choose not to pick a side; instead, I will weep for humanity while discussing the development of new police self-surveillance measures and where the real accountability should lie.
Knowing Me, Knowing You
From drones in the sky to cameras on phones, we live in a surveillance society. We are watched everywhere by friend and foe alike.
A significant issue with law enforcement is whether they should be made to use cameras at all times for arrests to be more accountable. I think there has to be a big “yes” to this, and it appears the test cases in which the police used them has met with an amount of official approval.
This has been helped by an apparent reduction in violent arrests; moreover, a drop off in complaints about police (3) (4).
Nevertheless, the notion of “control by shame” irks me. The infamous stocks of Medieval and Colonial American times did not deter criminals; indeed, the Puritans invented crimes for just about bloody anything (5).
The concept of shaming people as a tool to keep them from committing serious crimes could simply become a way for those with power to blackmail the little guy.
Another issue concerns personal moral dilemmas. If one’s only barrier to committing crime is fear of being caught in the act, then it shows how little we as a society value the mental and emotional state of victims. Shouldn’t their experience be the primary motivating factor any potential offender should worry about? Then the deterrent is only facile. Moreover, it means we are still not addressing meat and potato issues.
Namely, numerous law enforcement officers have received little or no reprimand for impropriety when captured on film. Look at what happened to Rodney King and Eric Garner. The police tend to close ranks when under threat. Hence, internal investigations resemble the fox investigating the chicken coop (6).
For some, the over arming of law enforcement officers and the resulting macho behaviors are considered out of step with threats faced (6).
On the other hand, there are certainly civilians who endanger the police and get what is coming. However, thanks to the way society is structured, the police and their victims whether innocent or guilty are part of a much bigger, meaner meat grinder.
Watching the Watchers
If we want to stop the deaths of black civilians by police, we have to confront the realities both officers and African Americans face day to day. Namely, the failure of the current economic system has exacerbated the many struggles in African American communities.
These are historical, it does not take a genius to figure out those in the poorest, and most deprived parts of any society will more than likely encounter those enforcing it. This is not simply a black and white issue it has occurred the world over since civilization began.
Furthermore, mutual fear creates a vicious cycle. As we have written here at TSW, no matter what political stripe one wears, the Prison Industrial Complex is the only winner at the end of the day (7).
Thus, if anyone were to be under surveillance and made accountable, the politicians and their corporate donors should be candidates.
Picking on the Cops (while useful) is akin to putting a Band-Aid on an amputation. If this article piqued ones interest a search through TSW will show some cool articles discussing current law enforcement issues in the USA.
References & Image Credits:
(2) Yahoo News
(4) Police Foundation
(5) All Experts
(6) TSW: Anti-Police Sentiment Spiking in the United States
(7) TSW: Militarization of American Law Enforcement Care
(8) johnwilliamsphd via Compfight cc
(9) Rose Colored Photo via Compfight cc