Video evidence doesn't always conclusively resolve controversies about whether police officers' decisions were justifiable. Will all footage be public record, even if prosecutors decide not to bring a case against an officer to trial? If so, do cops have reason to be concerned about their privacy? Imagine being asked to wear a camera all day at your job.
Making an investigation conducted by an outside law enforcement agency the default practice in all shootings involving officers would help establish public confidence in the police. So does the kind of old-fashioned, foot-patrol policing that puts personal relationships between cops and civilians first.
Still, cameras can make a difference. Departments that use them have found that they reduce complaints against officers.
"The problems go much deeper than technology, but this is the first thing that needs to be done to move forward," Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation in Washington, told Wonkblog last year.
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What's in Wonkbook: 1) Walter Scott shooting 2) Opinions, including Klein and Lowry on Rand Paul 3) Obama supports bans on gay "conversion" therapy, and more
1. Top story: North Charleston police will get body cameras
City officials made the decision after an officer shot and killed a man named Walter Scott. "City officials here promised to outfit the entire police department with body cameras Wednesday, seeking to defuse tension over a graphic video showing a white officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man in the back. Their attempts to reassure the public came as footage of the incident was replaying endlessly online and on cable news, and they showed how urgently authorities are trying to avoid frenzied protests like those seen in Ferguson, Mo., last summer." Wesley Lowery and Mark Berman in The Washington Post.
Video evidence is encouraging advocates of police reform. "While cameras frequently exonerate officers in shootings, the recent spate of videos has raised uncomfortable questions about how much the American criminal justice system can rely on the accounts of police officers when the cameras are not rolling. ... As cameras become ubiquitous, the digital video is likely to become a go-to source of impartial evidence in much the same way that DNA did in the 1990s." Matt Apuzzo and Timothy Williams in The New York Times.
HEER: The killing of Walter Scott sheds light on the problem of police lying. "The police don’t always tell the truth. Police violence and police lying are two separate problems, although they also reinforce each other. Police violence flourishes in part because of the prevalence of police lying, which is rarely challenged by the criminal justice system. ... In a classic 1996 article for the Colorado Law Review, Vanderbilt Law professor Christopher Slobogin demonstrated that both 'reportilying' (falsifying police reports) and 'testilying' are pervasive in many American jurisdictions. Police perjury, Slobogin argues, occurs because 'police think they can get away with it. Police are seldom made to pay for their lying.' " The New Republic.
KLEIN: Paul wants to do much, much less for the poor. "In 2012, 2013, and 2014, Paul released detailed budgets outlining his vision for America. In these budgets, Paul does something politicians almost never do: he forces himself to map his rhetoric against reality... The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit are basically eliminated; there are no Title I grants, IDEA grants to fund special education, or Section 8 housing vouchers; Obamacare is repealed; and Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and food stamps see more than a trillion dollars in cuts. ... It would be a massive anti-stimulus targeted at the poorest people who are clustered in the poorest parts of the country. What will happen to the groceries in Detroit after Paul's cuts to food stamps?" Vox.
LOWRY: It isn't clear what Paul really thinks about foreign policy. "To believe Paul’s latest posture, he’s a me-too Republican on foreign policy, only a little less so — the most-hawkish dove, or most-dovish hawk, in the Republican field, depending on the day. Forget all about how he once accused Dick Cheney of starting the Iraq War to benefit Halliburton. There’s nothing to see here other than a committed devotee of George Kennan. This has been an awkward and often unconvincing transition. To his critics, Rand Paul is libertarianism’s John Kerry." Politico.
COHN: Either former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be the GOP nominee. "The contest is closer to becoming a true two-way race — if one candidate falters, the likeliest outcome is that the other wins — than the wide-open race that pundits describe and polls imply. It may seem far too early to make such bold pronouncements, with nine months to go until the Iowa caucuses and with only two candidates formally in the race. But presidential primaries, like presidential general elections, have a set of underlying fundamentals that help determine from the very start which candidate will win the nomination." The New York Times.
Let Greece leave the euro. "Greece’s main contagion threat now would be if it is bailed out again without reform. Athens wants creditors to reward Greek voters for electing a government committed to dismantling the reforms Greece needs. If creditors allow Athens to increase government spending while reversing labor-market liberalization and privatizations, they’ll encourage anti-reform movements elsewhere," writes the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.
President Obama supports bans on gay "conversion" therapy. "Mr. Obama will not explicitly call for a federal law banning therapists from using such therapies on their patients, but he is open to conversations with lawmakers in both parties, White House officials said on Wednesday. Instead, he will throw his support behind the efforts to ban the practice at the state level. Mr. Obama began his political life opposed to gay marriage and accepting of limits on gays’ serving in the military. But he now supports same-sex marriage and has sought greater equality of treatment for gay men and lesbians in the government and the private work force. In his first term, he pushed the Pentagon to end the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' policy that had kept gay service members from serving openly." Michael D. Shear in The New York Times.
The Federal Reserve may abandon its plan to raise interest rates in June. "Minutes of the Fed’s March 17-18 policy meeting, released by the central bank Wednesday with the regular three-week lag, showed some officials wavering about moving to raise credit costs too quickly. Inflation has been running below the Fed’s 2% objective for nearly three years and some officials saw this trend persisting, citing falling energy prices and a strong U.S. dollar, which lowers the cost of imported goods. ... Since the March gathering, disappointing data have suggested the economy slowed in early 2015." Jon Hilsenrath and Ben Leubsdorf in The Wall Street Journal.
Investors are paying Switzerland to borrow their money for 10 years. "Until Wednesday, no country had ever sold 10-year debt that gives investors a yield of below 0%. And no country had ever issued a 100-year bond denominated in euros. But in the latest stark sign of how easy the era of easy money has become, Switzerland on Wednesday sold 10-year bonds that investors are actually paying to hold, while Mexico lined up a rare transaction to borrow euros it promised to repay a century from now—at a yield of 4.2%. The two extraordinary milestones reflect Europe’s extraordinary environment." Emese Bartha, Chiara Albanese and Anthony Harrup in The Wall Street Journal.
Paul was argumentative and defiant on his first day on the campaign trail. "In a series of interviews after the freshman senator from Kentucky declared his candidacy on Tuesday, Paul turned prickly — briskly sidestepping tough foreign policy questions from one journalist, lecturing another on how to conduct an interview, and testily declining to clarify his position on abortion. ... Rand Paul has never been one to shy away from confrontation. He launched his political career on an anti-establishment message." Katie Zezima and Vanessa Williams in The Washington Post.