Where is the Texas legislature on police body cameras?

December 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

In case you were wondering where the State of Texas stood on requiring law enforcement to wear body cameras, TXSB 158 sponsored by Sen. West was introduced on November 11, a week before Missouri governor announced a state of emergency in anticipation of grand jury decision.

The bill text can be found here.

Here are the important pieces:

  • Body worn cameras apply to officers who are “engaged in traffic or highway patrol” and who “respond to calls for assistance from the public”
  • The agency who operates a body worn camera program shall adopt a policy which includes guidelines for when “an officer should activate a camera or discontinue a recording currently in progress”
  • Training must be provided to “officers who will wear the body worn cameras and any other personnel who will come into contact with video and audio date obtained…”

In Sec. 411.445 entitled Recording Interactions with the Public, the bill reads as follows:

  • “An officer equipped with a body camera shall activate the camera when responding to calls for assistance and when performing other law enforcement activities, including traffic stops, pursuits, arrests, searches….unless activation of the camera would be unsafe, unrealistic or impracticable.”
  • “An officer equipped with a  body worn camera may choose not to activate a camera or may choose to discontinue a recording currently in progress for any non confrontational encounter with a person, including an interview of a witness or victim”

This section needs more clarification. How is an officer to predetermine if an encounter will be non confrontational? In my opinion, the officer should be required to record “unless activation of the camera would be unsafe, unrealistic or impracticable” (for example, when the officer hops out the car after a car chase) or to discontinue a recording currently in progress.

With this language, the “I didn’t know it would become confrontational” line would become as common as the “I was in fear of my life” line.

The obvious Prohibited Acts in the next section include not being allowed to use an unissued camera; “may not temper with, delete, or make unauthorized copy of data…”; “may not release a recording unless with permission of applicable law enforcement agency.”

For Recordings as Evidence, “recording…may not be deleted or destroyed or released to the public before the completion of the investigation into the incident.”

Does the public have to wait for both the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) and Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to complete the investigation?

What really stood out to me is an issue those of us in Dallas are working against, and that is the privilege to review footage before giving a statement. This is addressed in the last section 411.448, Rights of the Officers. “An officer is entitled to access any recording of an incident involving the officer before making a statement about the incident.”

What is the purpose of reviewing footage prior to making a statement? How can the public trust law enforcement to act in good faith after reviewing the footage?

In time, we’ll see how this bill will end up. For now, the tough question must be asked.

Proper reaction to Eric Garner–hint: don’t be sad

December 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

The police who killed Eric Garner was not indicted yesterday. I’ve expressed my thoughts about grand juries, blue privelege and white privelege previously so I won’t go into that.

This will be a short post. « Read the rest of this entry »

update: No indictment for Eric Garner’s chokehold death; Dallas DA-elect Susan Hawk, police body cameras and oversight

November 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Update: No indictment for Eric Garner’s chokehold death

Eric-Garner-being-choked

Last image of the threatening Garner before he was killed.

Dallas DA-elect Susan Hawk proposed to use the “office’s forfeiture funds” to pay for police body cameras. I am not sure what exactly is defined as “office forfeiture funds” (personally, I think asset forfeiture is a racket thanks to the Drug War) but some have joked that former DA Craig Watkins spent it all. For anyone who follows local government, this isn’t news but for those (the overwhelming majority of citizens) who don’t, and may be thinking,  “Who is this new white lady? And what is she going to do for Dallas?”, there you have it. « Read the rest of this entry »

Generational difference in Ferguson response

November 26, 2014 § 1 Comment

I observed a generational difference in the response to Ferguson and other similar white police-black victim shootings. In my experience, the response was generally uniform for anyone within a 10-15 year range (I am 23) and in conflict with individuals beyond this range. « Read the rest of this entry »

Phones still scare me

November 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Phone still scare me. This is something more likely to come from a Baby Boomer but not a 23 year old like myself.

After retiring my broken screen iPhone 4s, I made the long awaited purchase of the Galaxy 5. Imagine a Texan, alone, looking for the Apollo Theater–starting in Flatbush, Brooklyn–without a phone. « Read the rest of this entry »

Contracts, the black church, and homosexuality

November 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

If there is to be any government, be it the present one or one of your liking, the minimal role it should play in society is to enforce contracts; that is apart of upholding the law. « Read the rest of this entry »

Wendy Davis and the New Black Wall St.

October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s about that time again!

We are two weeks away from midterm elections, the time of the year you root for the biennial horse-race. Voters and pundits alike clamor over which ruler is the best; and politicians make their normal promises and campaign gaits. Here in Dallas, known as the Blue Island in the Red Sea, Congresswoman EBJ will keep her position as she faces no Republican opponent and no serious Democratic opposition. « Read the rest of this entry »

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