Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

BOSTON SHOOTINGS, POLICE CAMS AND YOU (Part Three)

Well, apparently, we are actually getting started.

The Boston Police Department’s body camera pilot program is now being launched with 100 officers selected by a department consultant after none volunteered.

Ruffled blue feathers? Maybe.  But progress has been made according to Boston University’s NPR station, WBUR,

The six-month trial starts today with two days of training. It goes live next month.

The 100 officers are  said to be racially and gender diverse.  According to the police department,  55 of them are white, 29 are black, 13 are Latino and 3 are Asian. Eighty-seven of the 100 are men.  You can figure out how many are not,

The officers are scheduled to patrol some of the city’s high-crime neighborhoods, college student enclaves and tourist hotspots.

Activists had called for this program for a while, since  the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago.

Controversy dogged the start of the program, however.  Some of that still exists as the  NAACP has questioned why a disproportionately high number of black officers are wearing the cameras, while others wondered why the largely Latino East Boston neighborhood is not included

And so it goes.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Perspective…Blue And Darker

“Sam, what’s the big deal here?  Why is this so important?”

Let’s say we are suddenly stuck on a desert island, which we will call “The Street”.

We talk about it and we all agree that we need some kind of law enforcement to enforce the rules we set up. We separate into two groups.   The law enforcement types (“Enforcers”) are charged with the typical policing duties one would expect. They are also informed that the other group, the regular folks (“Folks”), generally hate and fear them.

“Fear is good”, the Enforcers are told. “You need to capitalize on that fear so that situations do not get out of control and you do not get killed”.

The other group, Folks, have mixed expectations. Some of the lighter skinned folks are aware of a history in which most of them will not be bothered by Enforcers unless somebody says they did something wrong. If someone does, of course, all bets are off.

Some of the darker skinned folks are aware of a different history. In that history, Enforcers are very quick to assume danger and wrong-doing from them. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it is the reality. Everybody agrees that some of those reasons are not reasonable. However, on The Street, who wants to take a chance and die?

Now let’s make sure that most people are heavily armed.

Time goes by. Nature takes its course.

Good things happen. Bad things happen. All depending on the perspective of the participants.

Clearly, given the level of trust given to Enforcers, in a too-complicated invention called “trial”, they are given a certain amount of deference. Besides, who would want to believe those you trust most would be untrustworthy?

All this…under the best of circumstances.

Of course, humans being what we are, throw in some frustrating instances of dishonesty, hatred and pure racism.

Is there any way that, particularly as frustrations and anger intensify and fear builds to a fever pitch, violence would not erupt between the Enforcers and Folks?  More and more often?

No, not from a sinister intent to commit mayhem, but the fear-oriented perspective of not wanting to die. Further, the more the legal system seems to favor one particular group, the more the other group figures it must take the situation into their own hands.

Much like our founding fathers we celebrated last month.

Now, one more question.

Let’s say, in the face of all this, the employers of the Enforcers suddenly ask their employees to carry body cams while on duty just to “make sure” that all is as our system expects it to be. Perhaps it is because uncomfortable doubts exist because there seem to be a rash of instances where police officers abuse and kill Folks, particularly – Folks of color coincidently enough.  Let’s assume that said instances include video-tapes which would make even the most ardent Enforcer fan nervous.

What would  you think if the Enforcers refused?

What conclusions would you draw?

Wouldn’t you wonder whether there needs to be dramatic and systemic change?

Maybe even that your or your family’s life might depend on it?

Just sayin’…

 

 

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