Who Watches the Watchmen? Why Recording Citizen-Police Encounters Can Help Reduce Fourth Amendment Violations
36 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2012
Date Written: December 1, 2012
This comment addresses the hurdles that a citizen will face in attempting to remedy violations of their Fourth Amendment rights in both the civil and criminal arena. Ultimately, the comment suggests that on-officer recording of citizen-police encounters would be a valuable tool to criminal defendants and civil rights plaintiffs in combating the hurdles of: (1) judicial over weighing of police testimony; (2) police perjury; (3) implicit bias against the citizen; and (4) the low credibility of the citizen versus the friendly and familiar officer. The comment also addresses a variety of potential criticisms against the use of on-officer recording and why these concerns or critiques are either misplaced or outweighed by the potential benefits of on-officer recording. It concludes that although the solution is imperfect, on-officer recording would act as a deterrent to law enforcements agents against violating the Fourth Amendment because it would allow for more effective section 1983 claims and/or criminal suppression motions. In turn, the use of the devices will result in fewer Fourth Amendment violations and soothe tensions between law enforcement and citizens particularly in the neighborhoods and cities where law enforcement presence is needed the most.
Keywords: Fourth Amendment, police brutality, surveillance, civil rights
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