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Who should control police videos, the cops or the public?

"Almost without exception," states a recent NPR criminal law-focused article, "police videos are controlled by the law enforcement agencies that created them."

And therein lies the rub, say commentators who point to police custody over these relatively new, unquestionably potent and sometimes controversial tools that are used liberally by police departments across California and the rest of the country.

How an individual might feel about the source of control regarding body camera videos would seem to reasonably depend upon that person's basic mindset toward the police, that is, their public function/duty and the manner in which they should be going about their jobs.

On the one hand, "law and order" advocates who have had only positive interactions with police officers and find no reasonable cause for distrusting them might find it both logical and advisable that law enforcers keep control over the video footage they shoot in their public encounters.

On the other hand, though, a discernible and sizable portion of the public comprises a demographic that is put into an instantly uneasy state when police/citizen challenges erupt and conceivably relevant video footage remains under the close control of the police. For this group, questions quickly arise regarding whether relevant evidence will be forthcoming for public scrutiny and, if so, whether it has been selectively edited.

One commentator in the NPR report notes the belief of many Americans that camera videotape is "for" the police.

What can be done to curb that perception, which NPR states is growing?

If the cameras' employment really is -- as suggested by many -- about police accountability, then "perhaps the footage should be under the control of an independent entity," stresses another commentator and police department analyst.

The bottom line, of course, is the public's need to know that its best interests are being promoted -- not militated against -- by the growing use of cameras, and that there is justification for trusting their use.

Clearly there is some work to be done before the cameras are widely accepted as valid and unobjectionable police tools, especially when police departments insist on keeping custody and control in-house.

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