Thursday, September 29, 2011

Be Prepared to Be On Video

Casino use of force


Videotape never tells the whole story

An unedited videotape may never lie, but it is also always partially blind, often totally deaf, and usually too late to the dance

The use-of-force video from inside the U Me Drink club at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino in Detroit is a good launching point for a discussion about what’s happening to police officers nationwide. As anyone watches an incident play out on nearly every use-of-force video, the viewer is invited — even dared — to draw a conclusion after seeing a snippet of an incident taped from an obscure angle in limited lighting. Conclusions drawn are often jaundiced because videos of a police officer using justified force are often listed on YouTube as “Police Brutality.”


Video Happens!

Both officers and civilians involved in violent (use of force) encounters need to realize that video is here, and not going away. For every violent encounter in a public place, there may be 3 cameras recording the incident, all devoid of the context of what led to the encounter.

Context is Important

The problem, for civilians and law enforcement alike, is that most cameras in the hands of bystanders don’t start recording until the encounter is underway, meaning that you WILL have to explain everything to an officer (or supervisor), or judge and jury, if you are charged. Officers may have to deal with internal affairs investigations as a matter of policy, or as the result of a complaint.

The Bottom line:

Be as overt as you can that you are using force appropriately, and only if the situation warrants. Us civilians should make every attempt to remove ourselves companions from the area safely, if possible, and be ready to explain our action, and be consistent with possible surveillance video (as in this casino video footage at P1), or from bystanders with cell cameras. Be prepared that the video may be on YouTube or another video host before you have a chance to tell your story.

Raises the stakes, doesn’t it?

Be safe, be careful, and be prepared!

1 comment:

John W. Zimmer said...

Hi Nathan,

When I was a bouncer we did not have cell phone video camera's (heck - we did not have cell phones) so my concern was the perception of any witnesses.

You are right that all context is out and the legal system is left with just the video that may not agree with the rest of the reports.

I think the video can be great if it does start at the beginning because since when is a verbal assault grounds for battery?

That being said - many times the angles of the camera's might not catch the "victim's" hand reaching for a pocket... thereby reasonable justification.

Good food for thought Nathan!