Edmonton's horrible police force needs more than just body cameras

Edmonton's entirely corrupt police force -- last seen harassing a man to death in a famous incident that at least was fatal to the "hate-crime" busting asshole responsible -- has looked into body cameras and said: nope, not interested.

Body cameras on cops are ways to record what police actually do when they come up against the almost-always civilians they target. Reason.com has done quite a bit on the subject, both the pros and the cons. The pros include a vast improvement of behaviour. Anybody who's witnessed Edmonton cops interacting with citizens notices immediately how belligerent and dominating the officers become -- and those are the ones in public, in private are far far worse -- and how quick they are to try to deny them their right to walk away and tell this second rate pig to go shove Kris Wells' dick up his ass. Pros also include, paradoxically, a reduction in complaints against police. While generally not applicable in Edmonton, where every police officer is corrupt, jurisdictions with a more healthy mix of good and bad cops see complaints about officer mistreatment go south. It would ensure that complaints only come when there's actual police abuse (also caught on video in this case), and not so much when the officer did nothing wrong and the complaint was frivolous (note: this has yet to occur in an Edmonton case). The other pro is that it immediately raises eyebrows when the video goes missing or camera evidence is destroyed. This tends to happen an awful lot, most famously in BC where Ian Bush was shot in the back of the head during an interrogation for "resisting" and the officers got off, in part because there was no video being recorded in the interrogation room.

Cons of body cameras include, of course, that corrupt cops like those in Edmonton like to tamper with video evidence (just ask Brian Fish), an increase in the amount of police surveillance, especially if the video isn't publicly available, and the loss of privacy rights both real and imagined if the video is publicly available. Yes, those are competing issues.

But back to the corrupt Edmonton cops:

EPS spent three years researching and testing the cameras with funding support from the Centre for Security Science. Some of the key points from their research were:
  • clear policies need to be drafted about when police should start recording
  • where and how to store the data needs to be addressed
  • the test project found no "significant" evidence that body-worn cameras reduced use of force by officers
  • police work time would "notably increase" if video review became part of daily police routine
Where and how to store the data isn't nearly as important as how to store and release the data is. More on that below. As for the "no significant evidence" that body-worn cameras reduced the use of force by officers, it's not clear that anything short of firing every corrupt Edmonton police officer would actually reduce that use of force, especially if, as noted, the video is never released. Apparently 70% of the police force believes it never will be (30% of officers said they wouldn't wear the cameras voluntarily). To that, if Edmonton does introduce police body cameras, pace Reason, several things need to happen.
  1. All bodycam video taken in public by Edmonton Police is in the public domain. This is an absolute 100% requirement. If it's not happening, giving police body cameras is useless. Citizens must be able to see all footage taken on public property, including inside of vehicles and homes when visible from the street. As well, all bodycam footage recorded while in a business which posts an "EPS Agent Status" sticker -- thereby allowing EPS equal authority to an owner -- is in the public domain and cannot be withheld by either EPS or the business owner. Because this footage is in the public domain, it must be available for any member of the public who wishes it. A reasonable administration fee -- I'm talking in the under $10 range -- can be charged to provide the public or the media with this footage, and the requester should provide their own flash drive or DVD to record the footage on.
  2. All bodycam footage recorded during the execution of a warrant must be provided to the subject of the warrant or the owner and resident of the property. Another 100% requirement, though I know there will be some disagreement on whether both owners and renters should get a copy of the footage. I specify both the owner and the resident (read: renter) in this section because if a search warrant is executed in a home property belonging to both individuals can be damaged and destroyed by excessive police action. Likewise, both individuals may be charged as a result of evidence collected during executing the warrant, and the bodycam footage will help determine if that evidence was collected under the restrictions placed on the cops by the warrant. There is absolutely no excuse for property owners not being able to witness what cops did in their home or place of business. They aren't permitted to run roughshod over property that doesn't belong to them.
  3. In the event that bodycam evidence is missing or destroyed, or a camera malfunction of any kind has occurred, the officer's testimony is no longer acceptable as evidence in any criminal or civil trials against either the affected member of the public or against the officer himself. This definitely will require legislation, almost certainly at the federal level, but is a complete requirement when dealing with corrupt forces such as those found in Edmonton or Vancouver or Windsor. Camera footage which for some reason stops recording or disappears is common when dealing with Edmonton cops -- remember, they tasered a lawyer who legally photographed their abuse of power and totally got away with it -- and the best way to ensure that doesn't happen is to put every pig on notice: if the footage disappears, the only side of the story that can be heard in court is the accused. If there's video footage for you to provide context or explain motivation for the actions you're witnessed performing, fine. If that footage disappears, it's clear that you did something wrong. If it's good enough for Canada Customs, then it's good enough for corrupt cops.
  4. Body cameras must be turned on for all public interaction except for where station surveillance or dashboard cameras are operating. If a cop is in their car the existing dashboard camera should be sufficient to record encounters...and in fact, dashboard cameras should be subjected to the rules above. While in the station, even in interrogation rooms or at the front counter, public interactions should be covered by existing surveillance. However, outside of these realms, a police officer's entire shift needs to be recorded. Sorry assholes, you've proven you aren't trustworthy. Everything you do is suspect, every one of you is corrupt, and every minute you're walking around collecting money paid for by taxpayers you'll be subject to their oversight. There should, again, be absolutely no forgiveness for officers who fail to collect video footage. If it ain't there, that guy who stands up in court claiming you murdered him can get you convicted of murder. Record the video or go to jail forever. You wanted to be a petty dictator controlling and bossing around the public, now pay the piper.
So there you have it: a way for body cameras to improve the shameful condition of policing in Edmonton. It's bad enough that men have to shoot the freedom-hating cops that come to their door to keep the police state at bay, even worse if they get to record video footage that only comes out when they don't have their own sick secrets to hide.