The public conversation on police body cameras has been fascinating and it is equally fascinating that leftist Madison is so far behind the times on this.
In an interview with News 3 Now last week, Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes said he was frustrated by the committee’s decision but hoped the pilot would move forward. He also said he hoped to hold a public hearing on the issue sometime this year.
Multiple attempts to install body-worn cameras on police officers in the city have failed in recent years.
A July 2021 report from the Police Body-Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee concluded they should only be implemented if a number of steps were undertaken before the program was launched. Those steps ranged from making sure an independent police monitor and the Police Civilian Oversight Board have full access to video to making sure the Dane County District Attorney’s Office undertakes measures to prevent overall charging rates for low-level offenses from climbing as a result of the program.
When cameras reached a size and portability to make body cameras available, it was really the anti-police forces pushing for them under the thought that police were committing all sorts of offenses. They thought that the cameras would help them catch bad cops.
Personally, I was on the fence. I thought that having a video that shows one perspective could be used to smear good work. I also thought that as the public watched police do their work, they would be shocked by the sometimes aggressive tactics that they have to use to maintain order.
In practice, body cameras have been great. More often they exonerate police when accused of bad behavior than confirm it. Also, the cameras have given the public a good window into what modern policing looks like and the crazy people that they often deal with. It’s like the TV show COPS where we can marvel at the patience and professionalism of the vast majority of police. At the same time, the cameras have been useful in catching police officers who do abuse their power. I’ve become a huge supporter of body cameras for police.
Which makes it telling that liberal Madison continues to drag their feet. Since body cameras have been a positive thing for police instead of a negative thing, Madison’s leaders are reluctant to deploy them. As if we didn’t already know that Madison’s political leaders were anti-police, this is yet another example.