It’s Way Past Time to Watch the Watchers

I am favor of direct civilian oversight of the police department, and the demilitarization of local police and county law enforcement. At the state and national level I can see the need for more firepower, but it should be vested in the National Guard and armed services, respectively, and not militarized police forces. Armored cars, SWAT teams, and militarized officers are killing and brutalizing innocent people (including mayors of Prince Georges County towns) in a perverted, misguided, and monstrously costly “War on Drugs.” This has corrupted the police and judicial system in this and every other country, just like a national association of police chiefs said it would, in 1912, when commenting on the proposed anti-narcotics Harrison Act.

Technology now exists that could easily record and transmit to a remote server/recorder the entire shift of every sworn police officer. We will be more reasonable with the authorities than they ever are with us, by allowing them to escape the mandatory audio/video surveillance during their off hours — unless, of course, they are carrying their badges and/or weapons. If the gun goes on, the camera goes on. If an officer is caught on duty, or off duty while armed, without the camera, it should be an instant suspension.

Right now, I am supporting the NAACP’s effort to get citizens to upload their videos of police misconduct to a remote server with their cellphones. I am personally watching the development of WiFi portable video cameras, perhaps even a 4G version, so that all video is uploaded in real time to a remote location. Police can no longer seize or destroy cellphones or camcorders when they have been caught committing crimes under color of authority.

We’re headed toward a police state, and forget the slippery slope. We’re moving at a faster pace now than I ever achieved with my old garden-hose-powered Slip-‘n’-Slide game. The first order of business, and the first line of defense, is to combat corruption and abuse by the people who are sworn to protect and serve — protect and serve us, not themselves or their crooked colleagues. Since the culture of silence and the blue line hold back reform, police departments and other law agencies cannot be trusted to police themselves. It’s way past time to watch the watchers.

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