Welcome back, and thanks for joining us as we unpack this somewhat controversial subject. In our previous article we talked about the introduction of body cameras for certain Michigan police departments, and the ensuing privacy issues that have come up ever since. Moving on we’re going to be talking about how Michigan hopes to solve this problem.
In December of 2015, Senator Ken Horn introduced Senate Bill 0634, which aimed to exempt from disclosure any recordings captured by body-worn cameras. Like so many other bills of it’s kind around the country, it went nowhere. Which is terrifying for people who have been falsely accused of crimes, and the footage of their arrests and the accusations against them are available for public consumption.
As it stands, there are not many police departments in Michigan that use body worn cameras, in part because of the upfront cost of the equipment and also partly because of the long term cost of data storage and time needed to review footage. However, while those two are the primary reasons, there is that other, less discussed issue that serves to unsettle law enforcement officials…
An officer’s body camera picks up every single interaction he or she has, even the ones that amount to nothing.
The fact that a body worn camera follows that officer everywhere and collects every single piece of data it encounters, regardless of how invasive. (Although it is worth noting that officers do have the ability to switch their cameras to the off position.) This is data that some say is just another form of government surveillance, while others argue that it violates privacy.
What is a father to do if, during a highly contentious custody battle, his wife calls CPS and falsely accuses him of sexually assault against their daughter? When the police show up at his house to arrest him and explain to him what the charges against him are, that interaction becomes part of a permanent record that will linger, and can haunt him for years to come. Afterall, we all know what happens when false allegations against someone spread all over the internet…. Pizzagate, anyone?
What about a mother who is struggling to make ends meet and can’t buy her children new clothes because she has to pay the bills to avoid shut-offs and put food on the table. Someone calls CPS and reports her for neglect because her children’s shoes are too small and their pants are too short. A CPS agent shows up at her house with an officer in tow. The officer is technically there for the protection of the CPS agent, but his body camera doesn’t make that distinction. So now there is a permanent record, available to the public, that labels the mother neglectful and a “bad” parent.
How do parents protect themselves from being labelled in their communities as neglectful or abusive? How do they avoid the public scrutiny and shame that comes with having to explain to a police officer wearing a camera that you are a good parent who loves your kids and would never do anything to hurt them? How do you keep these private and horrifying moments out of the hands of the general public?
Join us next time, as we discuss how Michigan is addressing the invasion of privacy issue, But with regards to the issue of false accusations, we do know exactly what you can do – call The Kronzek Firm immediately! We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help falsely accused parents and caregivers in Michigan fight for their freedom and their future.