The independent agency that deals with complaints against police in New York says that almost half of all the claims of police brutality it receives are now being proven by video evidence.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates and recommends action on complaints against NYPD officers, released a semiannual report noting that 45 percent of cases where claims of excessive force were made were corroborated by video evidence within the first six months of the year.
That figure constitutes a rise of 11 percent on 2014 findings.
“Video is a fundamental revolution when it comes to the accountability of police officers,” CCRB Chairman Richard Emery told the New York Daily News.
“It’s demystifying the whole investigative process. No longer is the lion’s share of the cases ‘he said, she said’ where additional corroboration is almost always required and substantiation is quite difficult.” Emery added.
Video obtained from phone cameras and cctv amounts to substantiation of 21 percent of all the excessive force claims filed so far in 2015, according to the report. The figure is the highest the CCRB has ever recorded, dating back to 1993.
It highlights how vital cell phones in the pockets of vigilant citizens are to upholding the rights of Americans.
While the number of cases of police brutality may be on the rise, the likelihood of them being captured on video is also increasing.
Video footage is so abundant that the CRRB has created a team that specializes in seeking out footage of all reported incidents. Indeed, it is estimated that 182.6 million Americans will own a smartphone in 2015, an increase from 163.9 million in 2014.
There is a huge downside to the CRRB’s hoovering up of video footage, however. According to police watchdog CopWatch Patrol Unit, the agency is also using the video footage in order to justify giving cops more lenient punishments in cases of excessive force.
If there is any evidence of a person back chatting to a cop, or not complying, before the excessive force is used, then officers tend to be treated less harshly, claims CPU spokesperson Jose LaSalle.
“Out of everything that is on the video, the only thing that should matter is what the complaint is about, be it force, discourtesy, whatever,” LaSalle said.
The CRRB responded with a tacit admission that this is indeed the case.
“There has never been a balancing of the behavior on the video that excuses misconduct,” the CCRB chairman explained. “But if the discourtesy is provoked, that may affect the penalty phase.”
These statistics still show, however, that holding police accountable by being able to film them is hugely aiding the protection of fundamental rights in America. Perhaps that is why several states are moving to ban filming police, and the instances of officers claiming this is already a law seem to be on the rise.
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.