Local police chiefs address accountability involving media-driven world
So much of what we do each day is caught on video through cell phones, security cameras, even body cameras worn by law enforcement officers.
Local police chiefs say they welcome that level of transparency and hope it helps build strong community relationships.
Bryan Police Chief Eric Buske says they constantly review footage, whether it is from body cameras worn by his officers, footage from other cities, or citizen-shot video.
"We like to be held accountable, so it doesn’t trouble me. I want, as a department, us to be held accountable. So I welcome the body-worn cameras and welcome the social media footage," said Chief Buske.
Chief Buske says it's a great way to capture both the good and bad interactions so officers can learn.
"If there is a complaint against an officer, the first thing the internal affairs investigator is going to do is pull up the body camera footage," said Chief Buske.
College Station Police Chief Billy Couch says since they began using body cameras in 2014, he has noticed the accountability aspect is not just for the officers.
"A camera on a police officer is going to change that officer's behavior. They are now aware that everything they say and do is recorded. The same happens with the community on those calls because they know they are being recorded," said Chief Couch.
Couch says his officers expect everything they do to be recorded by a body cam, dashcam, or a citizen.
With the recent arrests of four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd, Chief Couch says it is difficult to be lumped in with the actions of officers so far away.
"We get judged based on the actions of other police departments, whether its Minneapolis or anybody else. What I would encourage the community to do is get to know the police department in your community," said Couch.
It’s that relationship with the community, involving transparency, that both Chief Couch and Chief Buske say is important in moving forward together.
"I know some agencies are uploading all of their videos on the web for everyone to see. That doesn’t seem like a bad idea because a great majority of the videos are positive interactions," said Couch.