Illinois Police Department Pulls Plug On Body Cameras Because Accountability Is 'A Bit Burdensome'
from the unconditional-surrender-to-administrative-complaints dept
Police body cameras aren’t the cure-all for bad policing. However, they are an important addition to any force, providing not only a means for accountability (albeit an imperfect one) but also documentation of day-to-day police work. They can help weed out those who shouldn’t be cops as well as protect officers from bogus complaints.
It’s not enough to just have the cameras, though. Effort must be made to keep them in working order (and to prevent intentional damage/disabling). The footage must also be preserved and provided to the public when requested. This does mean there’s additional workload and expenses to be considered, but the potential benefits of increased documentation should outweigh the drawbacks.
Not so, apparently, for the Minooka Police Department in Illinois. The agency has decided to end its body camera program because accountability and transparency are just too much work.
Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer said Friday the issue was not with the functionality of the cameras, but that it became a burden for staff to fill the many requests for video footage.
How much of a burden?
“I was happy [with the body cameras],” Meyer said. “It just became a bit burdensome for our administrative staff.”
That’s all it takes to let cops off the accountability hook: “a bit” of a burden. King Camera has been overthrown and the public’s access to information is first against the wall.
Chief Meyer might want to hire a spokesperson because he’s not exactly doing a great job explaining how burdensome the cameras were.
Meyer described a hypothetical example of the extra work it created for department staff.
“You could have four officers on a call for a domestic incident,” Meyer said. “If they are on scene for an hour — whether there’s an arrest or not — that’s four hours of video that has to be uploaded.”
Meyer could possibly be referring to redaction efforts, which could be time-consuming. He couldn’t possibly be referring to the “burden” of uploading film because that’s, well, non-existent.
The cameras could record up to nine hours of continuous footage with 16 GB of storage. They were plugged into a USB port at the department after a shift to collect the footage and recharge the battery.
Because the state doesn’t mandate the use of body cameras, the Minooka PD — which was the first in its county to deploy the technology — may be the leading edge of a new wave of abandonment, both of body cameras and the accountability that goes with them. All because of an increased workload deemed by the abandoning agency as “a bit burdensome.” When the going gets tough, the tough say, “Fuck it,” apparently.
Policing is adversity defined. I can’t muster up much sympathy for a law enforcement agency that calls it quits the moment it faces a logistical hurdle. To me, this abandonment says the department’s heart was never in it. Meyer may say he “liked” the cameras, but he sure didn’t put up much of a fight when someone in the office complained about the extra work. This is an agency that was looking for an excuse to ditch the cameras and took the first “offer” that came along: a bit of a burden.