Thank you for your indulgence while I stepped away for a bit. As one of my friends on Facebook pointed out, lots of stuff has been happening the past month that would add "fuel" to a blog. I just felt the need to step back and observe for a bit, maybe gather my thoughts and decide which issue to address first. I have made no secret of my desire to give voice to police officers and teachers and any other group with no prominent advocates in our city so I will start there.
I have watched and listened to with great interest the continuing lack of support our Greensboro Police officers are having to deal with. The extreme left wingers that dominate city council are continuing to allow amplified voices from opportunistic antagonists spew rhetoric claiming widespread corruption in our department with little to no regard to actual evidence. As I wrote in earlier articles, the New York Times article that all agenda theorists proclaimed as gospel when it was published back in October was flawed and its' claimed investigation incomplete. My position was then and is now that the writer investigated the information only to the point that it proved their agenda, ignoring details that would come from more in depth investigation that may disprove their position. Independent studies conducted by UNC-G and NC A&T proved my position and the revelation of their studies seems to have silenced those who depended on that bastion of journalistic integrity for their fighting points.
Of course, just as has happened whenever anti-police forces have latched onto a rallying cry that turns out to not be legitimate, they are nowhere to be found to express their remorse at conclusion jumping. During our local election forums back in October when this fictional story broke, council member incumbents (Marikay Abuzuaiter in particular) expressed "shock" and were "appalled" at the reported behavior of our officers. Where are they now expressing the same emotions with regard to an out of town newspaper (?) denigrating our department using insufficient research? Only Councilman Mike Barber during a public forum stood against the NY Times article and was chastised and ridiculed by the locals for doing so. It's the left wing extremist liberal way.
Now we have a movement to make body worn camera footage public; or so they say. You see, camera footage can further the agenda that most officers are racist (regardless of the race of the police officer according to some) and will prove once and for all the oppressionist tactics of police officers. Even Councilman Outling has written a policy just in case the state gives them the go ahead. Now, admittedly I have not consulted with police administrators on this issue but I have an idea based on my 29 years of experience as a street level police officer. It is based on accountability and transparency; for everybody!
Greensboro citizens have a right to privacy. They should be able to have a choice on whether their video footage is released. However, once they decide that they want to view the footage of their encounter with police then the department should make that footage public by publishing it on their website with a brief description of what the citizen claims happened; regardless of what it depicts. When a citizen requests to view the video, he or she should fill out a request that gives the reason for the viewing and sign the "notarized" document. Just above the signature line should be this sentence:
"Upon viewing this video, the requesting citizen acknowledges that the video will be published for public viewing on the Greensboro Police Department website".
All videos that are viewed, not just the ones that may depict misconduct by an officer. This does not interfere with the complaint process, a citizen's right to complain or the investigation of said complaints. However, for those who like to involve themselves as "help" for those who make claims of police misconduct it puts the control back into the hands of citizens. It removes manipulation by those who only want "certain" videos released. It adds in the concept of citizen review as all citizens of Greensboro can view the video, read the claim and decide for themselves if the evidence fits the accusation. It also allows citizens to keep score for themselves without media interpretation or having to depend on the word of those with an extremist's agenda. If the videos indicate a problem with an officer, it is there for the world to see. If the videos indicate that the citizen was the issue, the world can see that too. No dependence on media, no dependence on activists, no dependence on police spokespersons, no dependence on politicians trying to ingratiate themselves to a constituency. What you see is what you get.
The statistics will be easy to count. I'm sure that there will be those who interpret certain videos in different ways but the information will be there for the world to decide. If officers know that these videos are subject to release will they be more mindful of their professionalism; absolutely. Will citizens be more mindful of making excessive or extravagant claims of misconduct that will be shown on video; they should though we don't know if the forces of extremism will advise them correctly. We have seen citizens taken advantage of by these folks then tossed under the bus before. Will it remove politicians from making quick judgments or even false assumptions prior to the evidence being presented; it should though there will still be one or two to get burned because they are too willing to believe the anti-police rhetoric. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that it will remove the weak minded city manager from the criminal process in Greensboro and stop him from having legitimate charges dismissed without adjudication by those who actually have legal knowledge and paying sums of tax payer money to undeserving criminal violators.
Can this backfire? Sure it can; the claims that most officers are committing misconduct could turn out to be true. One act of misconduct out of however many videos needs to and should be addressed. It is my experience with the department that this occurs without citizen complaint. However, having worked in the profession for 29 years and serving with many of the folks now working for the Greensboro Police Department I am more than confident that any misconduct will be minimal and that our citizen's confidence in our department will grow exponentially. The NY Times presented partial numbers that were used to attack our police officers without presenting full and impartial statistics that would further explain disparity in those numbers. Now two local research institutions of higher learning, one traditionally African American, has disputed those claims.
Greensboro Police officers are NOT opposed to being held accountable or even to a higher standard; that is a socialistically perpetrated narrative that has absolutely no merit. Higher accountability standards need to be implemented throughout Greensboro. If in our police department, then certainly in our administration, our elected and appointed officials and yes, even in our citizens.
Transparency and accountability for all; let's do this!