Delaware Grapples with Issue
While the state works to set standards for the cameras, Baltimore and 22 communities have moved forward. Baltimore is set to start a pilot program in November and roll out the full program in 2016.
State civil libertarians and local police groups are battling over what gets to be made public and when. Police groups want certain exemptions from FOIA for the recordings to avoid jeopardizing cases and expensive long term storage.
In Delaware, there is a quiet review, some view it as when and how not if the cameras will become part of state policing. The state NAACP is advocating their use once privacy and other concerns are taken into account. In a December 22, 2014 joint press statement with the NAACP, Secretary Schiliro issued the following:
“We know the use of body cameras is inevitable and we view these cameras as a positive step that can help protect the rights of citizens and the police,” said Lew Schiliro, Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. “We will need to address privacy, procedural, and technical issues and look forward to continuing to work with NAACP and other organizations to get our policies right around these cameras.”
I believe these concerns are not some side issue. If done wrong, every police officer could become a walking surveillance drone. It is had enough to get witnesses to talk with police for fear of being discovered. What will happen when people fear that every contact is on record for who knows how long? How long will these recordings be required to be kept? It will make a huge difference in cost. When we need more police, how much do we want to spend on technical issues? On the other side of the coin, it gives the potential to increase confidence in the police and cut down on law suits and awards by sorting out the real abuses from the false. The situations across America, especially in Ferguson, show these are also real concerns. This debate will go on for a while, but let it happen looking at all aspects.