YouTube is apparently the answer to the question, “What do we do with this police body camera footage once we’ve obtained it?” Earlier this year, the Bremerton, WA police chief cancelled an order for 71 body cameras because he was concerned about the inundation of requests for the body cam footage and how much of a nightmare that would be to process all those requests and provide said footage. But other departments have turned to YouTube as an answer.
And some of the footage, like this morbid little video of police officer Tyler Stewart losing his life while investigating a domestic disturbance call, is downright eerie. But it’s also necessary. Perhaps the transparency of footage will provide deeper insight to private citizens into just how dangerous and anxious police work can be.
Fortunately the department did not upload the actual shooting of Officer Stewart, which would also likely violate YouTube’s TOS on violence, but the footage displayed does indicate just how quickly a situation can turn deadly.
Of course, while the body cameras seem like a good idea to showcase racially-tinged or controversial elements, it seems unlikely that these body camera-filmed incidents would make it to YouTube. Increasingly states are modifying the disclosure laws for police so this footage doesn’t have to be turned over to the public. Instead, the footage that would be uploaded to YouTube would be benign footage of you getting pulled over for taking a drunken dump in an alley. So it’s still a give and take as to how effective the body cameras program is going to become. But for the time being, the uploaded footage speaks for itself.
The body cameras are becoming much more commonplace since the controversial shooting death of an unarmed teen, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO last year.