Body Cams: The Newest NSFW Reality Show

How far is too far?

NSFW

An officer’s view during an OIS

I have to start this by making a very important statement: I am a huge supporter and believer in body cams/dash cams/motor cams. They are an amazing tool and I whole heartedly believe that if you have an overly strong opinion about how they will only be used to hurt you (if you’re a cop), you are either:

a) Overly emotionally invested in your job

or

b) Doing some shit you shouldn’t be doing.

That being said, I have noticed a concerning trend regarding the proliferation of OIS (Officer-Involved shooting) videos on police-specific social media pages.

You know the videos I’m talking about. The most recent one I watched this morning was in Texas. A suspect was contacted in a bathroom. He was suspected of boosting beer. Originally, I only saw the video from the male officer’s perspective (there was a female officer there as well), but a few hours later, her video was made public as well.

Long story short, the suspect walks outside and the female officer asks him if he has any ID. He reaches under his shirt and pulls out a gun.

Spoiler Alert: He’s DRT (Dead Right There).

The cops did everything brilliantly. As it turns out, the gun was a replica of a .45 1911 and was a BB gun.

Doesn’t matter. Good shoot.

Now, my issue isn’t with the videos in and of themselves, nor with the officers in question. Hell, even the suspect performed as Darwin apparently intended.

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No, my issue is the public’s ability to view things of evidentiary value with both little (read: no) training and little (read: often less) context.  If you were to look at the comments of that video, I’d be willing to bet a few folks were asking dipshit questions/making dipshit comments like:

“Why didn’t they shoot the gun out of his hand?”

“They should have known it wasn’t a real gun!”

“Why couldn’t they shoot him in the leg?”

“Why did they shoot him so many times?”

I won’t belabor the asininity of such questions/comments, but I assure they exist in cases like the Texas example…and that example was clear as the day is long!

Listen, I understand why the show COPS has been so popular for over two decades. I get it. But I’ll be damned if I can remember a single episode in which the officer killed someone and it got aired. Sure, there were dead bodies, but they were already there when the cops showed up.

More often than not, the show reflected the perspective of an average beat officer and the kinds of details he/she would handle in a given period of time.

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I foresee in the future a COPS NSFW show in which they will exclusively show OIS videos and then cut to a “man on the street” style interview where Mopey and his boy, Pookie, wax prophetic on the legalities of what they had just seen.

I’d like to believe the bevy of videos of seen of late are only released after cases have been adjudicated and they are no longer of evidentiary value, but I’m not exactly turning blue over here.

I’m not saying the public doesn’t have the right to know…except they kind of don’t.  At least not right then.

*GASP!*

It’s true. Let’s say you wanted a copy of a collision report…a collision in which you were not involved. You know who isn’t getting a copy of that? Yup. You.

I realize that doesn’t rise to the level of an OIS, but the same is true with other police reports as well. That’s also part of the reason we don’t let random people traipse through crime scenes. You may feel you have the right to know what’s going on and you wouldn’t be wrong. The right you don’t have is the right to when you get to know.

We’ve become this NSFW-obsessed culture, at least when it comes to seeing the terrible things officers are required to and are often forced to do. My fear is that we are anesthetizing entire generations of people who don’t have the same restraint that older generations once had.

I’ve seen more examples of death, destruction, and carnage than I ever care to remember. These days, if I can help it, I do my best to avoid adding more to the memory banks. Unfortunately, though, these NSFW OIS videos are excellent training tools for us LEOs…both for things done well and for things not done so well.

The thing is though, society at large doesn’t need that kind of training and I question the both the ease of accessibility and the propagation of these videos.

Question: Do you think releasing NSFW OIS videos serves a purpose for the public at large? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

9 thoughts on “Body Cams: The Newest NSFW Reality Show

  1. I believe it is two fold..
    1) Feeds the curiosity that everyone has on the issue
    2) upsets the general public, who do not know the ins & outs of what happens in such incidents.

    The camera shows some of the incident, but not ALL of the incident. The officer was seeing much much more. The officer was feeling and thinking many things during this incident. The body camera can only show the mechanical view of what is happening, it does not give the WHOLE story. My 2 cents. Thank you

  2. It’s my understanding that the particular video you’re referencing (and many others) was only released AFTER the officers had been cleared, meaning there would be no criminal charges and the criminal investigation was over. The shooting in Texas happened in May and the video was released last week.

    My agency releases all of our reports, albeit redacted, as long as they do not pertain to an active, criminal investigation. We also release our collision reports to anyone who requests a copy and pays the fee, whether they’re an involved party or not. We consider any report generated by our agency to be public record as long as it doesn’t relate to an active investigation.

  3. I’m less concerned about the body cam videos than the cell phone videos posted on Youtube and Instagram. These are totally without context and posted immediately, fanning the flames and inciting the village idiots (and the numbers are growing) to do something stupid.

    Stay safe and go home to your family. Thank you for what you do.

  4. Much like what Scoop was saying, the camera isn’t mounted to the head. Therefore, if I turn my head to the side and see a threat approaching, I may well be drawing my firearm even before I turn square to the target. Anyone not involved in law enforcement wouldn’t understand why I turned and fired; they’d only see a guy getting shot. And then they would howl like dogs.

  5. I don’t understand the public’s fascination with the morbid. Why does the media need to replay the 911 calls over and over (Sandy Hook, Columbine, 9-11, etc…)why do we have to hear the officer’s or firefighter’s last transmission before they were killed? For everyone involved it scratches the scab off of emotional wounds every time that tape is played. I, very recently, was the dispatcher for an officer involved shooting. It didn’t get much press even though the criminal was black and the officers were both white because the criminal was on viewed robbing a store, shooting at the clerk and then failing to obey commands with a gun in his hand. The general media didn’t do much with the story, but it was all over You Tube before I ended my shift that night.

    On a side note, there was an episode of Cops where they show the officer immediately after shooting a suspect. It’s older and I think it’s in Texas. They’re chasing a burglary suspect and the officer is solo w/his trusty cameraman behind him. You hear the officer yell for the suspect to drop the gun, and the cameraman rounds the corner not even a second after the shot. It shows the officer in the aftermath while he’s waiting for backup.

  6. I am conflicted as you are. I am no longer in law enforcement (miss it but happy) i definitely see the training value to LEOs but as a rule the general population has no idea. Take for instance the OIS to the south and east of you over the weekend. Seems pretty clean cut from all accounts, but I have already heard grumblings about why? This video hasn’t been released but I’m not sure if it was it would help

  7. Bodycams are a much more complex issue than most people realize. Its not just OISs- what happens when patrol does a welfare check after a “domestic disturbance?” They go through the suspect (AND the victim’s) house, showing the busted up furniture and the terrified kids. When its all said and done, patrol walks away and can’t make an arrest, because “mutual” or no evidence that suspect actually touched victim (and victim ain’t talkin’.)

    Now we have a public record. Its not part of an active investigation, so what rationale can you use to keep it private, considering FOIA laws? Do you want anyone and everyone to get a video walkthrough of your house, including your big screen TV and the safe where your guns are kept? And you don’t even have to be involved in the commission of a crime- what if you are a victim of a res burg, and the cops are rolling video while they are taking the report?

    Like MC, I’m actually a HUGE fan of body cams. They make my job MUCH easier. But the larger legal terrain is nowhere near ready to deal with all of the issues they raise.

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