ACLU wants better use of lapel cams by police

Updated: 04/02/2014 10:35 PM | Created: 04/02/2014 10:34 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Some community activists say the mayor may not have been so willing to work more closely with the DOJ were it not for the release of lapel camera video showing James Boyd’s shooting in the foothills.

“I think if we did not have that body-worn camera footage we may not be having this debate in the city of Albuquerque right now and we may not be watching a mayor come out with a request that the DOJ finally intervene in the department,” American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson said.

The ACLU says video showing firsthand how officers behaved was more revealing than a written report could be.

“It showed us that the APD escalates situations with people, particularly if they're homeless or mentally ill, creating situations where using lethal force is almost inevitable, that we think is probably a pattern that has never been recorded,” Simonson said.

But the ACLU says too often, officers forget to turn on cameras, choose not to, or the cameras malfunction.

“We'd like to see city council pass legislation that requires officers to use body worn cameras for every incident, every encounter with a citizen and that they create higher penalties for officers to make sure those cameras are used,” Simonson said.

The ACLU released a general statement about the mayor’s remarks Wednesday, reading:

“Mayor Berry’s call for federal intervention in Albuquerque’s troubled police department is a good first step towards reducing the excessive use of force and officer involved shootings in our city. It is a shame that the City’s leadership took so long to respond with aggressive action. Indeed, we might not be witnessing this action today if the Boyd shooting had not been captured by an officer-worn camera and made public. This fact makes one thing perfectly clear: body-worn cameras are an essential part of restoring transparency and accountability to our police department. Going forward, the City must set forth a policy of zero tolerance for any officer who fails to properly use a body-worn cameras to record encounters with civilians. Every single interaction between APD and the public must be recorded and preserved with serious consequences for officers who fail to do so. We furthermore urge the City Council to quickly adopt the recommendations put forward by the Police Oversight Task Force to overhaul the POC and establish meaningful, effective civilian oversight of law enforcement in Albuquerque.”

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