Police body cameras hold the promise of accountability, but carry the risk of becoming another tool of surveillance aimed at communities that are already heavily over-policed and heavily surveilled. Defending Rights & Dissent has created guidelines governing the use of police body cameras and the videos they produce.
The people have the right to film the police under the First Amendment, but police do not always respect this right. Police are prohibited from destroying devices or images by both the 14th Amendment’s due process clause and the 4th Amendment’s warrant requirement. The Local Civil Rights Restoration Act provides model language to protect the right to film the police.
As organization dedicated both to police accountability and to defending political dissent, we are deeply disturbed by both the acquittal of the former police officer who killed Anthony Lamar Smith and police use of force against the protests in response to this acquittal.
Remember – It’s legal to #FilmThePolice and #CopWatch. Observing, documenting and filming police activity and abuse is a key tactic in holding police accountable.
Militarization of American police forces is becoming more and more common and, as a result of digital-age technologies and the use of smaller-scale surveillance cameras both publicly and privately, many people living in the United States today believe they have no privacy and, indeed, no right to expect privacy. They are misinformed.
The LASD is one the most militarized police departments in the world using massive amount of tactical weapons, and human and electronic surveillance technology. The addition of Drones would further signify the structural and operational formation of LASD as an occupying institution that operates as a counter-insurgency force.