Over-Policing, And The American Surveillance State

The term “over-policing” is gaining traction in America, particularly after Ferguson, Missouri. But is over-policing a growing problem? Or is it that we have greater vision into police actions because of dash cam video, store surveillance video and bystanders with smartphones?

I believe it’s probably the latter, but we will never know, because there are no reliable statistics in this area. The police have their asses to protect, and I don’t even blame them for that, so they will be less than forthcoming in providing any details offering insight into just how much “over-policing” is happening around the country. And of course that term is subjective. Ask a conservative white guy living in White Bread, PA if there was over-policing in Ferguson, and you might get a different answer compared to black residents in Ferguson.

This is why we need more surveillance in this area. And that’s not a sentence I ever expected to write. But communities need a better way to police the people who are policing them. And the police need a better way to protect themselves against false claims from the community.

There is a We the People petition (now with enough signatures to get a response from the White House) demanding a federal law requiring all state, county, and local police to wear a camera. The prospect of a federal law is near zero, but I would be fine with federal funds being allocated for this purpose. I’m definitely a concerned citizen when it comes to an expanding surveillance state, but in this specific area (police interactions and confrontations with the public), I think having a video record of the events protects both the police and the community. But I’d love to hear differing opinions…


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