Doug Clark’s June 6 column on the usefulness of body cameras by Spokane-area law enforcement officers is the latest welcome call for common sense on this subject. The long pole in the tent is the police union’s opposition to camera use, or insistence that their use be tied to compensation as a condition of work.
Camera outfitting costs pale compared to the many costs of wrongful death, including Spokane’s hefty annual wrongful death lawsuit awards. In many cases, having body cameras as witnesses would eliminate questionable behavior and serve as unimpeachable evidence when mistakes are made (i.e., reported behavior and weapons that turn out to be nonexistent, collusion in inaccurate incident reporting, the ever-popular use of deadly force when less draconian measures would suffice).
The days when you could take every officer’s word to the bank is long past here, thanks to a casual treatment of the truth in recent incidents. Notions that use of these cameras is unnecessary or require Spokane’s finest to be additionally compensated are old news. If integrity is not required as a condition of work, the eye of the camera is the next best thing.