Opinion: let's arm our cops (with cameras)

Providing "body cameras" to our police officers would reduce police abuse and improve the image of these institutions .

Police officers during a protest

Police violence is something recurrent in most countries. Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Goméz Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: armemos a nuestros policías (con cámaras)

This week the day against police violence in Colombia was commemorated. However, police violence is not an evil that only afflicts this nation located in South America, on the contrary, it is recurrent in most countries.

The videos of African American citizens killed by the police in the United States or of the ways in which riot squads try to disperse demonstrations anywhere on the planet are iconic. This opinion piece does not pretend to wash the face of the police, because they have already done enough damage. It is evident that on the continent, in general, citizens reject these institutions that should be there to serve, but they have been tainted with death, violence, abuse (physical, sexual, psychological and verbal), corruption and racial profiling.

This week, the Colombian NGO Temblores published a report in which they indicate that, in 2020, the Colombian police murdered 87 people. The British newspaper The Guardian warned of the bad processes in prosecuting the guilty and that this is linked to structural and systematic problems. The document also warns of almost 8,000 cases of physical violence and 30 of sexual violence against migrants and Afro-Colombians.

I do not think that the cases are increasing and that is why the discontent is greater. I think that nowadays more are recorded and we realize what is really happening. Citizens and surveillance cameras have been in charge of being witnesses and revealing several cases that have generated national and international outrage.

However, I want to confess something: my image towards American police officers had always been one of rejection. They are very efficient, but racist and violent. However, I have recently seen videos recorded by the "Bodycams" (cameras that they wear on their uniform) and I have also discovered that American police officers are exercising order in "the wild west".

Also read: How far does the power of the Public Force can go?

In the United States it is easier to have a gun than a driver's license (although many times they ask for a license to obtain a weapon). Any citizen they approach can be armed, and many of these encounters begin with surprise shots from a citizen who has just been arrested.

How to believe in official reports from agents belonging to an institution with credibility on the floor? Obviously, the deaths that they carry behind their backs and the lack of justice in several of these cases makes our rejection grow and we end up being entrenched in two extremes (as is customary in these societies) in defenders and opponents of the Police.

For this reason, it is also in our best interest to be able to monitor the work of those we equip with weapons and give them the authority to enforce the laws. As Uncle Ben said in Spider-Man, "with great power comes great responsibility."

This will not only improve aspects of police violence or injustice in the face of deaths or assaults. It would also serve to cleanse these institutions of corrupt members who, many times, ally themselves with criminals or accept bribes.

In addition, another benefit is that, obviously, it could improve the image of the Police, if it is indeed a "conspiracy" on the part of anti-communist / imperialist groups that seek to destabilize governments.

This would be an excellent strategy to realize the true role of the uniformed and see under what conditions cases of police excesses actually occur. Additionally, it will serve to a great extent for the training of agents and self-criticism at times in which clear ethical, procedural or technical faults carried out by members of the public force are evident.