The Importance of Recording Police Interactions with Civilians

Posted by Seth Chazin | Aug 03, 2016 | 0 Comments

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There are way too many encounters between police officers and civilians where the police lie about what occurred. For instance in 2014, it was reported that Chicago police officers responded to a report of a man vandalizing cars. When the police arrived, they claimed that they saw a teenage boy with a knife in his hands who slashed the tire of a police car and fled. The officers said that they ordered him to drop the knife, but he refused and allegedly lunged at them with the knife. One officer, claiming he feared for his life, opened fire and shot Laquan McDonald in the chest multiple times and killed him. After a journalist filed a civil action against the city of Chicago forcing the city to release the dash cam video that the police had been hiding for over a year, it was revealed that McDonald never lunged at the officer. In fact, the video revealed that the officer actually drew his weapon immediately upon arrival at the scene.  McDonald tried to flee but the officer fired 16 rounds into McDonald and killed him.  If the dash cam footage had not been revealed, the officer's story would likely have been taken as the truth.

The good news is that there is a strong movement throughout the United States to require law enforcement officers to wear body cameras while on duty. It is absolutely necessary that all police activities be recorded.  This will ensure that the constitutional rights of everyday citizens will be better protected. In California, Penal Code section 859.5 requires that all interviews of minors who are in custody and accused of committing murder be recorded. In fact, all police interviews with suspects, witnesses, and any other civilians should be video-taped. This will do away with any question as to what took place and will provide much greater accountability on the part of the police

We have the technology to do this.  All we need now is the political will on the part of our politicians to make this happen.

For further Information about a proposed bill that would protect civilians by recording police activity, see the following article:  LA Times: California Bill would Protect Civilians Recording Police Activity

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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Seth P. Chazin is a San Francisco Bay Area Criminal Defense Lawyer with over 30 years experience.

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