The Freddie Gray case, and others like it , have made it clear that the methods of policing in this country must and will be changed. With the advent of cell phone cameras, over 150 million in this country alone, the underbelly of police work has been exposed for all time. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The reality is that it is rare that anybody in this country can move about without being captured on one video recording or another. The police included. Whether it’s shopping in a mall, driving in your vehicle, going out for a night of entertainment, or on patrol, you must assume that your activities are being recorded on camera.
It has only been in the most recent years, with a citizenry armed with these tools, that America has had a front row view to the harsh reality of police work. Before the video camera, certain rogue elements of the police force worked with impunity with no one the wiser. These officers abused their authority by covering up beatings, tampering with evidence, and perpetrating similar malfeasance on the community. They hid this conduct behind a benign narrative in their police reports and falsely testified when confronted in the court room. Without the video log, it inevitably boiled down to “Who do you believe: the police officer or the accused?” You don’t need to be a criminal defense attorney with 32 years of experience to know who wins that battle.
I should state that these same video camera logs can just as easily be used to validate the good police work that so many officers accomplish on a daily basis. Thanks to video logs in many of my criminal cases, I have witnessed remarkable restraint and conscientious service to the public by ethical and upstanding police officers. In these cases it is very difficult for my client to argue with what is presented in High Definition on a video screen. That’s the point. The truth found in a video recording is not biased towards police or citizens. It’s colorblind and indifferent to race or creed. It is simply the truth.
So what is the message behind the tragedy of Freddie Gray? The message is simple. Policing will never be the same. We the people are watching. We demand accountability from our police force in the performance of their duties and we expect them to serve with honor and integrity.
Let it be known that we the people are now armed; not with a handguns, tazers, or billy clubs, but with video cameras.