I was having a chat with my brother-in-law who has an extensive background in law enforcement. I don’t recall how this subject came up but I have a suspicion that i may have raised the issue of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and I must raised the issue of Police wearing body cameras.
For the record I have zero knowledge of anything to do with law enforcement, parking tickets notwithstanding.
This is not as straight forward an issue as I might have thought, but i can also see some potential solutions now and in the future.
My brother-in-law raised the following issues
“Through the local Police Services Board, the public ought to be engaged in a conversation about what is acceptable in terms of the use of B.W.C. (body worn cameras), managing expectations, and what, as taxpayers, are they, as the local community, willing to pay for”
…there is currently a lack of developed policy with respect to the wearing and using of body worn cameras (B.W.C.). First, it has to be determined is this a matter of provincial interest, or left to the discretion of each community?
There is more to the issue then just paying for cameras for each officer.
There is the cost of the cameras
There is the cost of maintaining them
Does (is) every on duty police officer issued a B.W.C., or is it restricted (patrol, traffic, tactical, C.I.B., Forensics, Intelligence
There is the cost of transcribing the information for evidentiary use, be it being part of an investigation, or part of court proceedings.
There is the cost of ensuring that innocent people who an officer comes across but are not part of an incident/investigation are blurred out. (i.e. having a person (s) on staff who is trained to deal with the above issues.
There is the cost of purchasing a means of storing the video clips.
There is the cost associated with establishing policies for the collection and use of information gathered
Who determines when and how the camera is turned on and then turned off?
Using the money to have more police officers available
or not increasing budgets at all
First things first
About the community being engaged is a conversation about what is acceptable in terms of the use of B.W.C etc. This is an issue where Social Media can be a game changer. A perusal of the Ottawa Police Service Board Website shows that the only opportunity for a two-way conversation occurs is if you want to form a delegation and show up at a meeting. You can also sign up for a newsletter. The Toronto Police Services Board has an extensive Social Media Platform. In fairness the Ottawa Police have developed an App for dealing with police issues (on-line reporting of crime, crime maps, traffic disruptions.)
I’m thinking that one opportunity would be to create a unified policy regarding establishing Social Media Platforms. Admittedly the first step in creating a social Media platform would be to “listen“, using Google, for example to see what people are saying about you. The Optics of this may be problematic, but if it’s on the web, then its fair game.
It’s problematic to look at this incidents that have occurred in the United States from a Canadian Perspective. Having said that, having a social Media Platform may also be beneficial as 2 way communication may result in the Restoration of trust. This is also a benefit of using B.W.C. as it could lead to the “restoration of trust” in Police forces. One of the recurring themes in the shooting of Michael Brown was `was excessive force used. Potentially that question could have been answered had there been a B.W.C. on the Police officer involved. The integrity of the footage may be called into question, but there would be an answer
The next issue is what I would like to refer to as the cost of doing business“
The statistics above point to an opportunity to save money in a police Departments budget. Less Public Complaints equals less time involved in investigating said complaints. Ditto with having to investigate Use of force complaints. Less time investigating these issues equals more time investigating other complaints
This is where the notion of the “Internet of everything” and it’s impact on this entire issue
“New economic analysis by Cisco reveals that the Internet of Everything is a $4.6 trillion opportunity for global public-sector organizations over the next decade, as a result of cost savings, increased productivity, new revenues and enhanced citizen experiences.”
“Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. The benefit of IoE is derived from the compound impact of connecting people, process, data, and things, and the value this increased connectedness creates as “everything” comes online. “
Where the impact of IoE connects with this issue is this. When it becomes a reality each device will have it’s on ip address. This in conjunction with WiFi will allow remote access to a device in real-time. Will this eliminate the need for stand alone data storage and result in cost savings? The down side to this issue will be will it be vulnerable to hacking? Does IoE have the potential to solve some of the issues raised by my Brother in law vis-a-vis costs? Will the advent of IoE result in cost saving by taking automation to a new level. Will the cost of each device and it’s associated peripherals go down because of amped up economies of scale, (i.e. creating an increase in productivity by adding or increasing a factor of production), Only time will tell as this is a blog about future trends
However all of these issues become moot if there is no conversation (will) to engage in changing the status quo, and at the end of the day pay for it
To my mind the last two options that my brother-in-law raised are simply not acceptable. This may be more of an issue in the United States then here in Canada but adding more police officers to any force (may not) will not address the issue of trust. More two-way communication will help solve that problem.