Ubiquitous Surveillance, Police Edition

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In the city of Rialto, about 50 miles from where I live, every police officer is now equipped with full-time videotape capability. The New York Times reports:

It is a warning that is transforming many encounters between residents and police in this sunbaked Southern California city: “You’re being videotaped.”….In the first year after the cameras were introduced here in February 2012, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent compared with the previous 12 months. Use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent over the same period.

….“When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better,” Chief Farrar said. “And if a citizen knows the officer is wearing a camera, chances are the citizen will behave a little better.”

….William J. Bratton, who has led the police departments in New York and Los Angeles, said that if he were still a police chief, he would want cameras on his officers. “So much of what goes on in the field is ‘he-said-she-said,’ and the camera offers an objective perspective,” Mr. Bratton said. “Officers not familiar with the technology may see it as something harmful. But the irony is, officers actually tend to benefit. Very often, the officer’s version of events is the accurate version.”

I imagine that in the fairly near future, convictions will be all but impossible without videotape evidence. Likewise, complaints of police brutality will become almost prima facia credible if videotape of the incident mysteriously goes “missing.” All in all, this is probably a good thing. But I wonder if courts will eventually rule that all police videotape, like all 911 calls, are public record?

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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