Cops Should Wear Body Cameras, and Maybe Commissioners Too

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke commends elected officials who support police body cameras.

Local politicians and union bosses opposed to putting body cameras on cops and other government employees who interact with the public are supporting corruption and unethical behavior. Last month, Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach approved the purchase of body cameras for police officers to wear while on duty. The Beach also got cameras for meter maids, code enforcement officers, and building inspectors.

However, county police union president John Rivera and his Miami Beach counterpart, Alex Bello, claim the body cameras will put officers and the public in danger. They contend cops will get distracted by activating the camera. Another city union boss, Richard McKinnon, claims the practice infringes on people's right to privacy, comparing it to George Orwell's 1984. Even a couple of idiot county commissioners have questioned the use of body cameras.

"A couple of weeks ago, this wasn't on anybody's radar," Commissioner Sally Heyman, chairwoman of the public safety committee, said during the county budget hearing. "Why does it need to be right now, in this budget?" Commissioner Juan Carlos Zapata added, "I'm not convinced it's a good policy decision to have these cameras."

They don't realize body cameras will go a long way to holding police accountable in a city and a county that have seen too many unarmed black men being shot to death by police. If Cops had been required to wear body cameras during Memorial Day weekend in 2011 when all those innocent bystanders got shot by cops trying to stop Raymond Herisse, we would have found out the real truth.

Body cameras will also prevent botched raids like the June 30, 2011 slaughter in the Redland, where cops killed three alleged home-invasion robbers and a police informant. State prosecutors believe the officers were not justified in shooting two of the suspects and the snitch, but they lacked evidence to file criminal charges. In July, the county agreed to pay a total of $600,000 to the families of the three robbery suspects.

Had those cops been equipped with body cameras, those suspects would probably still be alive, and Miami-Dade taxpayers wouldn't be stuck with a bill for reckless police behavior. In Miami Beach, adding body cameras to the city's civilian enforcers will make them think twice about shaking down residents and businesses like the crew of inspectors arrested by the FBI in 2012 for taking bribes.

Everybody talks about transparency, but when you put it on their desk, they take a pass. I've seen eye-to-eye with Rivera on other issues. But he is wrong on this one.

Heyman and Zapata are fools living in Pleasantville where innocent black people are not getting shot by police. Since it is not happening to their constituents, they don't care about the communities that are plagued by gun violence and reckless cop shootings. That's why I commend Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for putting his neck on the line by endorsing body cameras. He deserves all the credit.

Maybe a better idea is to put body cameras on the union bosses and the commissioners to see what they're doing.

Tune into Luke on the Andy Slater Show every Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. on Miami's Sports Animal, 940 AM.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1 and @unclelukesempir.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.


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