AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT …
America’s overreaching, overbearing federal government has spent billions of dollars created a repository for all of our private phone records, emails, text messages and web searches. Clearly it shouldn’t have done that … but the existence of such a shamelessly unconstitutional facility is proof positive that government can do pretty much anything it wants with modern technology.
Which leads us to an idea …
What if government stopped investing in technology leading to the deprivation of our liberty and started investing in technology leading to its preservation?
After all – isn’t that what government is there to do? Protect our life, liberty and ability to pursue happiness? Seems like we’ve heard that before someplace …
Anyway, our idea is simple. Well, okay … it’s not simple. It’s probably crazy complex – but in the wake of the debate raging after the Ferguson debacle it strikes us as increasingly necessary.
Basically, our idea involves equipping states with the resources they need to hold their local law enforcement personnel (and their own state law enforcement personnel) accountable for their actions by creating a centralized network of law enforcement monitoring. The vast majority of cops are already wired for sound – and equipped with cameras on their vehicles – but what we’re envisioning would take things to the next level.
Under our system all cops – local, state and federal – would be fitted with body cameras and microphones. These cameras and microphones would go “live” the second an officer goes on duty, streaming content directly to a central statewide repository – one manned 24/7/365 by a representative of the state’s chief executive, Attorney General’s office and a designated victim’s advocate.
For an additional layer of transparency, this panel could choose to allow a representative of the state’s press association (or other media organization) to have access to the repository at any time it deems it appropriate.
Bottom line? Anytime an allegation is made, all this group would need to do is check the tape. And if the tape has been deleted … well … you know what that means.
As “cops and courts” libertarians, we have always viewed law enforcement as a core function of government – a necessity for the safeguarding of our lives and liberties. And we believe such functions (unlike non-core “responsibilities“) must be funded in an amount commensurate with the importance of that task.
We also believe the vast majority of law enforcement personnel take seriously their obligation to protect our lives and preserve our liberties – and to provide that protection equally under the law. But there are bad cops. And corrupt bureaucrats who would rather see things covered up than dealt with properly.
Also, there are plenty of rabble rousers and agitators out there who thrive on uncertainty and confusion … who grandstand without a leg to stand on, so to speak, needlessly inflaming passions and stoking further unnecessary violence.
Creating and maintaining a record of law enforcement activity at the state level – and ensuring such a repository is publicly available at a moment’s notice – would protect us from both evils. It would protect citizens from bad cops, but it would also protect good cops from false allegations of improper conduct.
There’s absolutely nothing more fundamental to a free society than the even-handed protection of life and liberty. That’s why it’s so essential that we use the technology available to us to help preserve those fundamental rights … not see them further eroded.