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We Don’t Want To Watch Police — But We Have To


We Don’t Want To Watch Police — But We Have To

Leonard Pitts Jr.

The question was first posed by Juvenal, a Latin poet whose life spanned the first and second centuries: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Translation: “Who watches the watchmen?”

The old question finds new relevance in an era of heightened concern about police brutality, where cameras are omnipresent and police misbehavior routinely goes viral. These days, all of us watch the watchmen,, a de facto citizen’s review board armed with cellphone cameras.


Cameras are necessary for sure. So is an informed, watchful citizenry. Mr. Pitts needs to go after the testing and training of police, though. And, Rahm Emanuel is just unfortunate, period. The secret interrogation warehouse in Chicago was functioning under his watch, btw. How many innocent people assumed " the fetal position " after a couple of hours of intense police questioning in that forsaken place? We'll never know for sure but it sounds an awful like what is routinely done in S. America, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, to these ears.


Mr. Pitts, you seem to forget that Rahm Emanuel is a product of the terrorist state of Israel and the IDF! What is unfortunate is that he was Slick Oily's Chief of Staff and that he is now the mayor of Chicago! Probably just doing the advance work for the Obama's homecoming in a year or so!


It should be an automatic reflex for people to record any arrest by police as a civic duty. The only thing that will force police to act civilly and lawfully is when they know that it is all being recorded on people's cell phones. The surveillance state in this type of situation works both ways.

Police are supposed to act lawfully. That classmate of the girl assaulted by the 'resource officer' is a hero and should be honored for helping her classmate because without her cellphone video, her classmate wouldn't stand a chance at justice.


Yeah well if the kid had made any threatening move maybe the cop would have to use force but give me a break, Who the hell has made disobedience to authority such a damn crime? Think about it? So the kid acts up and gets expelled for two weeks or something like that. Obviously the kid needed counseling for her home situation (according to her classmate's comment that she had no one).

Oh wait we can't afford interesting schools or desks with laptop computers. We teach to test not to learn. Counseling? We only talk about counseling after a Columbine. Btw would you want to send your kid to that school after this?

So she didn't obey. Is it just me or has a fascistic mentality overtaken America where if you aren't rich (and your parents' lawyer would sue) then you had better just obey without question...without rights. You are of the underclass not the overlords.

She committed no crime by disobeying. People should remember that. They was no cause for such brutal treatment of a kid. Do you think she'll forget about it or do only rich people suffer psychological trauma?

I agree he shouldn't be in the job... but I bet the wealthy are saying that the kid should have just obeyed (but would have said that there was no call for such behavior from a police officer if it were their kid).



Well said , Wereflea !!! As far as making failure to obey (instantly , abjectly , unquestioningly) such a damn crime , look no further than the leaks from the UK about GCHQ's secret strategy , which centered on instilling "obedience and conformity" in the populace . Beating obedience into the unwilling is every totalitarian's sadistic fantasy .


Rahm Emanuel is the product of Made-in-America fascism of the sort Sinclair Lewis presciently outlined in "It Can't Happen Here" . American police forces had their genesis in the fugitive slave patrols , and they haven't improved much since ! In addition , the Chicago PD has an especially rank reputation - one brought to national attention during the vicious police riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention . Homan Square is the most recent manifestation to come to light . The number of victims disappeared and tortured there by Chicago's finest now exceeds 7000 and counting !


To get back to topic, I would think that after getting over the obvious insult of having a camera record your every move the police would come to want the camera. The feeling of security that you have a witness for your actions from your point of view should relieve stress not increase it.This, of course, is true only if you are not easily angered and do not use a gun as your first reaction to a treat from a child.


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As long as you don't interfere or impede a lawful arrest I would think that they cannot legally take your property simply because they don't want to be recorded but cops can confiscate a phone if they believe it would show evidence in a crime (not their crime of course). It should be returned as is but accidents seem to happen when police behavior is what is recorded. The issue as a general rule is that Free Speech law says you can video but not interfere.

In any case, if people begin to record arrests automatically, police act will act properly when they know they are being recorded by bystanders who can't be arrested just for watching.

The ACLU site says that the infamous stop and frisk actions by police declined by half after New Yorkers began to routinely record arrests. Simply put the police can't just say to everyone 'give me all your phones' to a group of people. It didn't work.

There are upload apps to the cloud that hold the video even if the phone is destroyed. Some states allow you to upload a video by pressing 911.

Recording police behavior stops abuse.