Turning the Cameras on the Police
I wonder how celebrities feel about being in the eye of the camera all of the time, if those million dollar smiles masquerade the fear and apprehension of being photographed with a piece of food lodged between your teeth. The worst case scenario maybe that they are terribly embarrassed, in which case they fire the personal assistant who’s in charge of food stuck in teeth. Unless you’re Courtney Love, then nothing embarrasses you.
With this in mind, I ponder whether or not the police have the right to deter or prevent private citizens from videotaping or taking pictures of police, civilian encounters. In today’s day and age, just about everyone has a cell phone that is equipped with a camera and in some cases the ability to shoot video. Cops know this and those that don’t maybe need to find a new profession. Police work flows freely, shit happens when it decides to happen. There is no script, there is no director yelling cut at the scene of a police civilian encounter where the police have to use physical force so that cell phones and cameras can be collected. In those situations, the issue of civilians shooting videos or taking pictures is moot. The cop is not going to stop to collect phones or to make sure no one is filming before getting into a fisticuffs with the mutt that just snatched grandma’s handbag.
The majority of cops are good cops trying to do the right thing. The notion that we need to make cops more apprehensive than they already are by reinforcing the fact that ‘big brother’ is watching is ridiculous. Cops already know that they are constantly being watched. How has that affected police work? I don’t think we have the quantitative evidence to answer that question. I can answer it just from my own experiences as a cop. If I were a cop in today’s age of advanced technology, I don’t think I would have been as aggressive as I was and as a result, I would have been a less effective cop.
Take that aggressive edge away from cops and you will turn them from courageous sheep dogs who protect the flock from the wolves into a meek, mild mannered lap dogs. Trust me when I say that we don’t want our cities and towns policed by cops who believe in doing as little as possible in order to avoid having their pictures taken with food stuck between their teeth. Smile.
There are certainly many things wrong with Georgia’s decision to copy Arizona’s legislation in regards to immigrants. There is a reason why cops are cops and not border patrol agents or ICE agents. Cops already have enough on their plates every time they go out on patrol. Rounding up the ‘usual suspects’, in this case immigrants, should not be part of their duties.
Never mind what would happen to the already fragile economy of Georgia if every single immigrant got up and returned to wherever they came from. Some immigrants may be here illegally, but they don’t shop and spend money at illegal establishments. Their money is still very much legal at Wal-Mart and McDonalds. Notice the signs in Spanish at some of these stores- they aren’t turning away customers either. It’s funny that Gov. Deal is not requiring businesses to determine the immigration status of a Mexican mother when she spends $100 on merchandise at Wal-Mart.
All people in this country – even illegal immigrants – have a right to be protected by the police and seek police assistance if they are victims of a crime. How many do you think are going to come forward now to report a crime if they fear being deported? How many are going to volunteer information that could be so helpful in a criminal investigation if they fear being deported? There’s an old adage, the people are the eyes and ears of the police, and this is true whether or not those eyes and ears have legal papers. I worked for several years in Jackson Heights, Queens, a melting pot of Hispanic cultures. While investigating crimes involving immigrants, whether they were victims, suspects, or witnesses, my biggest hurdle was convincing them that I was not concerned or interested in their immigration status. And this isn’t even getting into the increase in human trafficking that is happening right now. Trust me when I say that illegal immigrants are not ‘wilding’ through the streets of America and committing wanton acts of crime and violence. My experience as a member of the Law Enforcememt community for 27 years has shown me just the opposite. The great majority are decent, law abiding people.
This piece of legislation will only serve to make the jobs of police officers tougher than it already is. The Governor should take an anonymous poll of police officers to get their opinions of this new law. I bet he will be surprised at the results.