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City Police Union Thinks Cops Should Review Body Camera Footage 

Wednesday, Oct 14 2015

Radio is an unlikely front in the battle to win public opinion, but for the city's police union, an old-school PSA is still the preferred medium for rhetorical grandstanding.

As SF Weekly reported last week, the Police Officers Association recently took to local airwaves to let listeners know that racial profiling doesn't exist in San Francisco policing. "Politicians and the media need to stop vilifying our officers," declared the 44-second radio spot. (Arrest data, which reveals African-Americans comprise less than six percent of the city's population but more than 40 percent of those arrested, suggests otherwise.)

In their latest ad, the POA defends officers' right to review body camera footage prior to writing police reports.

Reviewing footage will sharpen officers' recall of tense situations, POA president Martin Halloran proclaims, and will also "show the professionalism, courage, and restraint [police] display when faced with inappropriate behavior and the lack of respect [they] often endure."

This practice is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Justice but opposed by the ACLU and police watchdog groups. In San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee has earmarked $6.6 million to pay for police body cameras, debate over who gets to review footage, and when, is stalled. A working group of city agencies has yet to approve a draft body camera policy proposal.

Attorney Rebecca Young from the Public Defender's office proposed a compromise: let officers review footage only after they've filed reports.

As the draft policy enters its public comment phase, the POA's ads ring out like a clarion call: cameras don't lie, but truth is in the eye of the beholder.

About The Author

Jeremy Lybarger


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