If you have access to Facebook or Twitter, you have the ability to live stream your life in real time to anybody in the world. Sometimes these live streams can be great, some can be boring, & some can be extremely tragic as in the case of Philando Castile (gentleman recently shot in Minnesota as his girlfriend live streamed the immediate aftermath via Facebook). With that being said, here’s my proposal to the police: Maybe it’s time for you all to live stream your encounters with the public in real time so that we can see exactly what you see.
It seems like there is this never ending story going around & around about how to improve law enforcement relations with the public & to improve law enforcement’s ability to perform their jobs. Yet, nothing seems to be effective. The people asked for body cams, they gave some cops body cams. But body cams tend to fall off & then the footage is never released to the public till weeks later. So how about law enforcement allow for its police to somehow someway securely strap their cellphones to their bodies and live stream every encounter with the public in via Facebook or Twitter so that we can see what happens during these encounters in real time from start to finish. I mean, you are already wearing body cams, why not broadcast this footage live? What’s the problem?
In the case of Philando Castile, the cop who shot him did not have a body cam on to record the encounter from his perspective to back up his claims that Philando Castile wasn’t following instructions after informing the cop he had a gun on him. Philando Castile’s girlfriend was only able to record the encounter AFTER the fatal shots were fired into Philando which unfortunately leaves room for doubt on Philando’s part according to everybody siding with the police. So we need a solution that is simple & cost effective. So I propose for live streaming these encounters via a cop’s personal or department issued cellphone in real time.
During an encounter with a civilian, prior to the cop exiting his vehicle, the cop should turn on his FB or Twitter app (I prefer FB simply because the audience is way bigger than Twitter). After turning on his FB app, the cop should hit the status update button either on his personal FB profile or that particular police department’s FB fan page that that officer has been made an admin to. Once he/she hits the status update button they will be presented the option to live stream. Prior to exiting the patrol car, the police officer should be live streaming from the time they exit the patrol car to the time they come back to their patrol car after the encounter is over (assuming it was a routine non-lethal encounter). The reason why I suggest live streaming is because every time there is a lethal encounter between a cop & a civilian, the masses run to the media & social media to tell the story about how hard a cop’s job is or they tell the story painting the cop 100% in the right. We never get the full complete story, so we are left to fill in the holes in most instances.
Now, I am in no way pretending like this is a perfect solution to dealing with police brutality, but with the never ending talk about community policing combined with law enforcement embracing new technology (such as the technology used to literally blow up Micah Johnson, guy who killed those 5 cops in Dallas)…well why not embrace live streaming technology? It’s not like the cops don’t have a cellphone on their person already. It’s not like some police departments aren’t mandating cops to wear body cams. So why not take it one step further and broadcast these encounters live in real time so that we the public can actually see in real time what it is like to be a cop? Isn’t this the argument made over and over that the public has no idea what’s it’s like to be a cop? Ok, if that’s the case, live stream your encounters so that we can literally watch along with you in real time.
Will this solve all of the problems? No. But at the minimum it can be a measure to not only protect the public, but it could actually protect the police. I know some people are going to put up the argument “B-b-but, I don’t wanna have a regular traffic stop be live streamed & I end up all over FB embarrassed.” To that I say, would you rather risk embarrassment over a traffic stop or risk having your name & reputation smeared all over national & social media because the cop told the timeless story of “I feared for my life”? Meanwhile, you are laying in a body bag unable to tell your version of events.
But anyways, I don’t have all of the answers, but I honestly don’t see what the problem would be with this strategy to improving policing for the cops AND the public’s safety.