My View: Police Body Cameras Are Not Enough

Police Body Camera

In late 2013, a man was biking home on Alvarado Ave. in Davis. Unbeknownst to him, the police were responding to a call about a potential suicidal man. The officer, according to a letter to the man, “turned on his overhead spotlights to illuminate the street and sidewalk so that he could see whether the person was walking in the area.”

The man would crash his bike. He alleged that the officer caused him to crash his bike, which caused a back injury, eventually requiring surgery. But, just as important, the officer was not professional in his interactions – he did not get out of his car or make sure that the man was not injured.

The letter, dated March 17, 2014, and signed by Assistant Chief Darren Pytel, claims that the officer “did not intentionally turn on his spotlight and direct it towards” the man. However, it acknowledges, “That being said, when you did crash, the officer should have gotten out of his car and engaged in a more courteous/polite conversation with you to determine whether you were injured or not.”

Part of this incident was recorded on his in-car camera and, Assistant Chief Pytel acknowledges, “it is clear the tone and manner in which he communicated with you was short and abrupt. Therefore, your allegation that the officer did not engage in professional conduct is Sustained, meaning we do find the officer violated a Department Rule and Regulation. Further, the officer should have provided his name to you when you requested it. Therefore, that allegation was Sustained as well.”

The man believes that the spotlight from the police car caused the crash. He asked the Vanguard to investigate, however, the city’s response is that “the video you requested is exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act as an investigation record and under the statutory exemption for confidential peace officer personnel records.”

Moreover, “The investigation exemption does not terminate when the investigation terminates.” Further, “As part of an internal investigation, the video is considered confidential police personnel records that may only be disclosed pursuant to a so-called ‘Pitchess motion.'”

The Vanguard went through this exercise knowing full well the outcome, to illustrate the point that the availability of video is not enough in some circumstances.

Nationally, the death of Walter Scott following the unrecorded death of Michael Brown and the recorded death of Eric Garner have focused the nation on the need for police body cameras. In the case of Mr. Scott, access to the video shot, not by a body camera, but by a civilian who would send the video to the NY Times, forced the police agency to fire the officer and charge him with murder.

The video showed that the officer not only shot and killed Mr. Scott as he fled, but that the officer had lied and attempted to frame the crime scene to avoid responsibility. Without the video, he likely would have gotten away with it.

On Thursday, the New York Daily News reported a finding from the New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, which found that “cop watchers armed with smartphones are not only catching police misconduct — they’re catching cops lying about the misconduct.”

According to them, “More and more cops are giving false statements in official documents or when questioned about their misbehavior.” In fact, “The NYPD watchdog group determined that 26 cops made false statements either to the CCRB or in their paperwork last year” and these statements “were debunked by video evidence collected at the scene of the incident.”

Are body cameras the answer to this problem? The ACLU, NAACP, and other civil liberties groups on Friday released a set of guidelines for the use of body cameras.

The release from the civil liberties groups argues that “body worn cameras are not a substitute for broader policing reforms and, when deployed without appropriate safeguards, can even compound problems of over-surveillance and biased policing.”

They write, “To ensure mobile cameras are used to help eradicate discriminatory policing and protect civil rights, the groups are calling for camera policies to be developed publicly and to make sure that certain footage is made available to the public and the press. The groups also say that police departments must commit to a set of well-defined purposes for camera use, and need to specify clear operational policies for recording, retention, and access.”

“These guidelines can help ensure that cameras are tools for accountability—not instruments of injustice,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Without fair and transparent standards for the use of body worn cameras, police departments risk exacerbating the problems they are seeking to fix.”

To help ensure that police-operated cameras are used to enhance civil rights, departments must:

  1. Develop camera policies in public with the input of civil rights advocates and the local community. Current policies must always be publicly available, and any policy changes must also be made in consultation with the community.
  2. Commit to a set of narrow and well-defined purposes for which cameras and their footage may be used. In particular, facial recognition and other biometric technologies must be carefully limited: if they are used together with body cameras, officers will have far greater visibility into heavily policed communities—where cameras will be abundant—than into other communities where cameras will be rare. Such technologies could amplify existing disparities in law enforcement practices across communities.
  3. Specify clear operational policies for recording, retention, and access, and enforce strict disciplinary protocols for policy violations. While some types of law enforcement interactions (e.g., when attending to victims of domestic violence) may happen off-camera, the vast majority of interactions with the public—including all that involve the use of force—should be captured on video. Departments must also adopt systems to monitor and audit access to recorded footage, and secure footage against unauthorized access and tampering.
  4. Make footage available to promote accountability with appropriate privacy safeguards in place. At a minimum: (1) footage that captures police use of force should be made available to the public and press upon request, and (2) upon request, footage should be made available in a timely manner to any filmed subject seeking to file a complaint, to criminal defendants, and to the next-of-kin of anyone whose death is related to the events captured on video. Departments must consider individual privacy concerns before making footage available to broad audiences.
  5. Preserve the independent evidentiary value of officer reports by prohibiting officers from viewing footage before filing their reports. Footage of an event presents a partial—and sometimes misleading—perspective of how events unfolded. Pre-report viewing could cause an officer to conform the report to what the video appears to show, rather than what the officer actually saw.

From our perspective there are two key calls. First, that police officers be prohibited from viewing body camera footage before filing their reports.

Secondly, that the footage needs to be in public domain rather than solely under police control.

“With everything that has gone on nationally in the last six months, which has been horrifying and astounding, there’s been a rush to put body cameras in the field,” said Chad Marlow, the advocacy and policy counsel at the ACLU. “Right now the policies behind body cameras are all over the place.”

While they were concerned about the use of facial recognition software, our bigger concern is the other two areas.

Allowing the police to view the video prior to their report allows them to fit their story to what they see in the report. In the case of Walter Scott, that would have been critical because the report filed by the officer in that case was a fabrication to avoid responsibility for an unlawful shooting. Had he seen the video, he would clearly have changed his story to reflect the facts that the video revealed.

The second problem is crucial. As the case from Davis illustrates, the police are now able to use the peace officers’ bill of rights to claim that this is a private personnel record. The same stringent regulations have reduced the effectiveness of civilian oversight in California.

As the Vanguard reported, San Francisco DA George Gascon recently called for the use of video in all arrest reports. However, that does not extend to all citizen complaints. Without the ability of the public and the media to view this video, the police remain in control of it and any police department that is less than thorough and transparent in its investigations can hide behind these laws.

Clearly, once again, until California changes the law with regard to how these videos are handled, police body cameras are not going to be a solution.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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59 Comments

  1. sisterhood

    “First, that police officers be prohibited from viewing body camera footage before filing their reports.The second, that the footage needs to be in public domain rather than solely under police control.”
    I think #1 will be difficult, if not impossible to enforce. And I’m not sure it’s helpful. In a traumatic situation, people’s memories are not always perfect. It may help an officer to remember the details more accurately, before he files his report.
    “Had he seen the video, he would clearly have changed his story to reflect the facts that the video revealed.”

    That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your second suggestion. It is absolutely necessary.

    1. David Greenwald

      “And I’m not sure it’s helpful. In a traumatic situation, people’s memories are not always perfect. It may help an officer to remember the details more accurately, before he files his report.”

      Yeah but you’re missing the point. The purpose of the video camera is to insure that the police’s action are monitored and if you allow them to watch the video first, then you contaminate their statement and they can try to fit it to the facts. That’s why for instance, when an officer testifies, they testify on their memory not what they wrote in the report. They can use the report to refresh their memory, but they are not testifying from the report itself.

      The other point is that it is not impossible to enforce at all. The body cameras and the in-car cameras load the video to a remote site that they will by policy not have access to prior to writing their report. That’s an easy administrative fix.

      1. zaqzaq

        If the purpose of police reports is to be used to test the officer’s memory of an event and the purpose of the video is to assist defense lawyers trip up the officers then keeping the video from the officers until the write their reports serves that purpose.  You may also get very abbreviated reports with references to “see video for more detail”.  That would not be helpful to the people that rely on detailed reports, whether it is other officers doing further investigations, a defense attorney trying to determine what evidence exists, a defense investigator trying to locate and interview witenesses, a judge who needs an accurate summary of what happened or the district attorney trying to decide what crime to allege that a person committed.

        If the purpose is to generate an accurate report concerning what happened then the officer should have access to the video to write their report.  They may want it to fill in gaps that they may have or to clarify a sequence of events that is important to get right.  It may also allow them to include accurate quotes from suspects, witnesses and officers in the report so that someone who uses the report to make decisions will have the most accurate information.  It may also allow them to fill in gaps in their memories to describe what is observed in the video.  I suspect that not all officers will want or need the videos.  I do not know if it is even possible for officers to observe their videos and write their reports due to possible time constraints.  I suspect that most police departments will not want officers spending extra hours reviewing video tape to write more detailed reports and not be on the streets patrolling or responding to citizen calls for service.  Can you imagine getting the response that there are no officers available only to find out that they are all reviewing video while writing their reports.

      2. DavisBurns

        Yes, that is why suspects are separated and interviewed independently…so they cannot make their stories match up.  Good for the goose, good for the gander.

  2. sisterhood

    I wasn’t missing your point. But I do wonder are we foremostly trying to get at the truth, or trying to catch someone in a lie.

    Your idea for a remote location for the footage is excellent and you’re right, that would be easy to enforce.

    1. David Greenwald

      The point isn’t always catching someone in a lie – though you do need to guard against a person being able to alter their story to fit the video. For example if Officer Sleger who killed Walter Scott had known the video, he would have altered his story to fit the facts on the video rather than give his initial account. Who knows, maybe he would have been able to justify his actions and get away with it.

      However, there is another point. You need to give an account based on what you saw at the time – because that’s what you were reacting to. The video may capture stuff you never saw and therefore didn’t factor into your decisions.

      1. Barack Palin

        But the video might also help the cop and the accused.  For instance, the video showed the cop that he pulled over the wrong car or caught the wrong guy in a foot chase.  You seem to assume that cops watching the video will always be used in a devious way.

         

         

        1. hpierce

          Ok… a person commits a heinous crime, and while the cop-cam is running, during apprehension (camera still rolling), blurts out information that would lead to a successful prosecution.  Once apprehended, and given their Miranda rights, they ‘lawyer-up’.  Before they give a statement to the police, with lawyer present, they demand a copy of the video, and give a statement that “conforms” to the video, plus the video cannot be used at trial by the prosecution, as the ‘defendant’ had not been ‘mirandized’ prior to the video being made, and any investigation based on what the accused said is inadmissible as ‘fruit of the poisoned tree’.  The arresting officer, under your proposal, must write their report without seeing the video.  So, the defense can use inconsistencies in portions of the video that support ‘reasonable doubt’ (contrasted with the police officer’s report), but the DA cannot use the same video (other portions) in the prosecution.  The “knife” needs to cut both ways…

        2. David Greenwald

          Hpierce: Miranda only applied when the person is in custody. My understanding is that the statements made under those conditions are absolutely admissibl under several different sections of the evidence code. 

        3. zaqzaq

          hpierce,

          Google search “miranda rule” and you will get, “Miranda rule – the rule that police (when interrogating you after an arrest) are obliged to  that anything you say may be used as evidence and to read you your constitutional rights”

          From the above the Miranda rule would only apply when the police are asking you questions after you are arrested.  Your example does not include an interrogation so the information blurted out by the bad guy would not fall under this rule.  The camera and I assume audio statements hopefully could be used.  Your concern is valid.  I suspect that defense attorneys and judges keep important information from the jury all the time based on some perceived constitutional right of the defendant.  I believe that keeping this information is not consistent with justice or public safety.  If a person’s constitutional rights are violated let them sue the police in civil court for money but let a criminal jury have all of the information.

           

           

          1. David Greenwald

            In my experience it’s comparatively rare that a statement get suppressed. Usually Judges will allow almost any statement in. That’s not to say that the defense doesn’t try, but they rarely succeed.

  3. Tia Will

    One other point about “getting at the truth”. A video that is mobile can be adjusted by the person controlling the movement of the camera and thus certain actions will be recorded and others omitted. The importance of point of view was clearly demonstrated in the tapes of the pepper spray incident. If the camera had been focused solely on the protestors performing the anti police chants, and then turned off so that one could not see that the protesters who were actually sprayed were sitting peacefully, quietly asking why they were about to be sprayed, it might have reasonably been assumed that the police officer sprayed them because of fear for his life, rather than anger that his authority  he was being questioned.

    Stationary cameras will present an objective view of what occurred within range of the camera. Cameras  hand operated by humans will have the limitation of the selected range of the human manning the camera and thus by definition will present a limited view of what occurred.

    Since the police report reflects the limited view of the officer of what occurred, and the camera view will record only what was within the range of the camera, these should be viewed for what they are, two distinctly different perspectives on what occurred. I think that this is a strong argument favoring the police officer writing their report prior to any viewing of any recorded material. It is not necessary to see this as an attempt to catch the police in a lie. One might equally assert that since the police are more often acting in good faith with honesty, that the camera recording will support the officers report. However, if the officer is allowed to see the clip first, it would at least be possible for her to change her report to align with what was caught by the camera.

  4. Biddlin

    It is naive to think that a technical device will have a significant impact on such an entrenched and sanctimonious institution. Were we to hire police based on their nurturing skills and cooperative attitude, we would not have this problem, but the fact is we hire cops for their physical abilities and willingness to conform to long held conventions, including the code of silence, the blue wall, when it comes to police misconduct. Frank Serpico says nothing has changed since his day, I believe him.

    ;>)/

     

  5. zaqzaq

    “facial recognition and other biometric technologies must be carefully limited: if they are used together with body cameras, officers will have far greater visibility into heavily policed communities—where cameras will be abundant—than into other communities where cameras will be rare. Such technologies could amplify existing disparities in law enforcement practices across communities.”

    It would be really cool if the technology existed for live facial recognition and other biometric technologies could be tied into officer body cameras.  Can you imagine if officers were responding to a child molest call in a city park with the perpetrator still in the area and the cameras could be used to identify known sex registrants living in the vicinity.  The officer could be notified that a known molester was walking down the street from a park where the incident occurred which would allow them to catch the suspect quickly.  Or catch criminals that the police are looking for.  Davis officer camera identifies Woodland bank robbery suspect walking into a Wells Fargo.  How about known drug dealer standing on a corner in a high crime area like Baltimore.  This limitation has nothing to do with preventing crime or catching criminals.  Just the opposite.

    1. Tia Will

      zaqzaq

      For the handful of examples that you chose, your argument is sound. But how about a few different scenarios ?

      1) A young woman who has previously been convicted of prostitution but has “left the life” ?  I believe that we have some regional examples of sexually predatory police.

      2) What about someone who was imprisoned for a crime committed 20 years ago who has fully paid their debt to society and is now a law abiding citizen ?  Ok for this to follow them their entire life by face recognition ?

      3) What about an instance in which an individual was convicted of a white collar crime and is no threat to society but is “facially recognized”  Is it ok for them to be targeted because of facial recognition ?

      Your point should certainly be taken into consideration and it should also be carefully balanced against the possible misuses and impacts that this might have on those who are not any threat to the society.

       

      1. sisterhood

        Facial recognition seems really creepy. My family member is on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life, yet is not a threat to anyone. Wrongfully accused & convicted, plea bargained. There are vigilante groups who follow sex offenders. In my county, they sometimes even follow them to their place of worship & harass them. Sometimes t.v. crews are present. Facial recognition would be another way to harass citizens who have already served their time. (I won’t refer to this as “paying their debt to society”, because sometimes there is no debt, just a plea bargain or a flat out wrongful conviction.)

        For those of you who made remarks the other day that I seem to frequently bring up my own situation, there is nothing I can do about that except advise you skip over comments that seem to make you angry or uncomfortable. My life experiences have profoundly affected me. This is a website that allows comments, so I advise you skip over my comments if  they make you uncomfortable. Thank you. Peace.

        1. zaqzaq

          Sisterhood,

          You should look into the pardon process.  My brother in law had a friend that went through that process and was able to be removed from sex registration requirements part way through.  His crime was a misdemeanor and not very serious compared to other sex crimes and was very old (over 20 years) and he was law abiding since.  We had a heated argument over whether lifetime registration should be mean lifetime registration.  You should find a good lawyer and look into it.

          You should ask Davis Progressive about it. He claims he used to be a defense attorney. I suspect mentioning his name will elicit a response since he seems to always have an opinion and always has to be right. I even added this to catch his attention for you.

        2. sisterhood

          zaqzaq,

          Thank you for your words of encouragement and sharing your own personal story. We did hire a very good lawyer who knew our family. He only charged 50% of his usual rate, we still paid $250,000. It would be nice to go back to court someday, if we had the funds.  We try to not ruminate about the injustice, easier said than done. I guess it boils down to, our family and close friends believe in his innocence, others don’t really matter.

          How wonderful your brother in law’s friend was removed from the registry. Good for him. We are happy my family member had his record expunged.

      2. zaqzaq

        Tia,

        To make facial recognition viable you would have to have settings so that the officer only received pertinent information.  Otherwise it could be an overload of irrelevant information.  Being able to set it for sex offenders when responding to a sex offense would not include the individuals in your examples.  It would be really cool if they could set it for individuals who are on parole or probation and subject to certain restrictions, like not being in a park or near a school (sex) or individuals on probation or parole that are subject to being searched for drugs, stolen property or weapons (thugs likely to commit new crimes), or a drunk driver who is not supposed to consume alcohol in a bar.  Having a facial recognition system that you could tailor they type of criminal that triggers the system would be a major tool for law enforcement.  Imagine the officer is driving down a street in a neighborhood that has a history of being victimized by auto burglaries or home burglaries and the facial recognition picks up on individuals who have been convicted of these types of crimes sitting in a car or walking down the street the officer would then be able to target them for surveillance maybe using a portable drone which could video the criminal breaking into a car or home.  Then the swoop in and catch them red handed.  Totally cool.  A great improvement for public safety.

    2. sisterhood

      I caution you against intermingling the term sex offender registrant with the term child molester. Some folks on the registry have never committed a crime against a child, some are 100% wrongfully convicted.  Some have been arrested for urinating in public, viewing what looks like adult porn but contains underaged young women, some are 18 year olds who had consensual sex with a 16 year old girlfriend who does not press charges but her parents do. Others are he-said – she-said offenses that are plea bargained, etc. I personally believe that any child rapist should have an extremely long sentence & ankle bracelet for life. I personally don’t believe the registry is fair, because serial killers are not on any registry, wife beaters, dangerous repeat DUI’s are not on a registry. Drug dealers who push to children are not on a registry. I have much sympathy for Megan’s parents but sadly I do not believe in Megan’s list for curbing sex offenders.

      Also, some readers may not realize that some of the most dangerous sex offenders are allowed to register their address as homeless, and only report once a year. It may actually make the true offenders harder to monitor, IMHO.

  6. Tia Will

    Biddlin

    I think that is a very bleak view of police. I also think that condemning an entire institution because of individual actions is not the best way to move forward.

    Yes, there are doctors that have falsified records and gone back and made false or misleading entries to justify their actions. This does not mean that all doctors or even the majority engage in this practice. What is critical is to design systems that prevent falsification from occurring. In the medical setting this is largely achieved through the electronic medical record which documents with a time stamp exactly when each entry was made and does not allow for the destruction of previous entries.

    I think that a better way forward ( than vilifying the police) towards providing police transparency may lie in developing systems ( of which body cameras may be only one part) that do not allow for after the fact or comparative alteration of the initial narrative of the police officer.

    1. Biddlin

      “I also think that condemning an entire institution because of individual actions is not the best way to move forward.”

      I can hear the echoes of the pro-slavery argument.

      ;>)/

       

        1. Biddlin

          You are the one making the argument for what I consider an inherently unjust and unnecessary institution. When a society forms around any institution, as the South did around slavery, it will formulate a set of arguments to support it. I am saying that the institution of militaristic policing is inherently evil, corrupting even righteous, if there be any, individuals in its grasp. I think the matter of  “law enforcement” can and should be handled by civilians rather than military powers.

          ;>)/

    2. zaqzaq

      Doctors have review panels that look at cases to see if the doctor was wrong and the reports or findings from these bodies cannot be made public or used in a civil lawsuit.  How is this different from police shield laws?

      1. Tia Will

        zaqzaq

        Doctors have review panels that look at cases to see if the doctor was wrong and the reports or findings from these bodies cannot be made public or used in a civil lawsuit.  How is this different from police shield laws?”

        Your comment ignores the fact that doctors can be sued for malpractice and /or negligence.

         

        1. zaqzaq

          Police officers can also be sued.

          But the review panel cannot be used against the doctor.  If the doctor admits he made a mistake in the review panel process that admission cannot be used in civil court where the doctor can then claim he made the right medical decision.  Your comment ignores the fact that these review panels hide the truth from patients and the public.

  7. Frankly

    But just as important, the officer was not professional in his interactions – he did get out of his car or make sure that the man was not injured.

    This is either a poorly written sentence, or an indication that alien bugs have infested the sensibilities of the Vanguard writer over issues related to law enforcement.

    Should the sentence have been written?…

    “Even though the officer did get out of his car and make sure that the man was not injured… bla, bla,..”

    0r

    “But just as important, the officer was not professional in his interactions – he did not get out of his car or make sure that the man was not injured.”

    In any case, this seems all about nothing.  A bike rider that crashes because of a light is responsible for his own crash.  Apparently he was speeding or driving recklessly or was impaired.  Because any responsible bike rider would simply ally the breaks and stop.  The fact that this is even a story tell me that we are really scrapping the bottom of barrel to come up with new grievances against cops in this town.  I really suggest that David find a new hobby-subject for his blog.

    1. David Greenwald

      The reason that I’m telling the story is that we have a partially sustained complaint with insufficient evidence to determine why the crash occurred. You’re speculating on the cause as would I in response.

      1. Frankly

        Ok… now it make more sense in context… but still not agreeing it is newsworthy.

        Headline “Guy Crashes On Bike After Police Shine Light on Him”

        1. David Greenwald

          The point of the story was to illustrate how vviewing the video might have helped us evaluate the complaint. Your comments if anything reinforce that view. 

        2. DavisBurns

          would it be more relevant if the light was in the eyes on an automobile driver and caused the same injuries? A cyclist has the same rights to the road as a car yet we take car crashes and injuries much more seriously.

    2. sisterhood

      Strongly disagree. David’s sentence was relevant.  The cop should have got out of his car to make sure the citizen (that he’s paid to protect) was not injured. And he’s obliged to be professional & pleasant to the public. If he had shown an ounce of empathy and caring, the guy on the bike would probably not have filed a complaint. Especially if he had apologized for turning his lights on him. But it is very difficult for cops to apologize, they seem to view it as a sign of weakness or wrong doing. It’s not.

       

    3. sisterhood

      I frankly strongly disagree. David’s sentence was relevant.  The cop should have got out of his car to make sure the citizen (that he’s paid to protect) was not injured. And he’s obliged to be professional & pleasant to the public. If he had shown an ounce of empathy and caring, the guy on the bike would probably not have filed a complaint. Especially if he had apologized for turning his lights on him. But it is very difficult for cops to apologize, they seem to view it as a sign of weakness or wrong doing. It’s not.

  8. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Because any responsible bike rider would simply ally the breaks and stop. “

    I am quite concerned that those  alien bugs may have spread to readers and posters of the Vanguard as well as the article’s author.

    Consider the above quote. Should it read ?

    “,,,, the bike rider would simply apply the breaks…” or

    “….the bike rider should simply apply for breaks…” or

    “….the bike rider should simply ally with his breaks..”

     

     

    1. Frankly

      Typing fast without my coffee having kicked in.  That is my excuse.  But then I am only a poster and not the author of article and supposedly having a team of editors… of which I thought you were one.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        But then I am only a poster and not the author of article and supposedly having a team of editors… of which I thought you were one.”

        Ok, there is a huge misconception here that I feel the need to address. Being on the editorial board in no way means that we “edit” in the sense of correcting the grammar of content of the posts. Our role is one of considering broad issues and goals and processes of the Vanguard. We do not decide what articles get printed let alone monitor those articles for accuracy.

        I definitely understood your point, despite disagreeing with it. I was merely feeling mischievous and decided on a little word play. No offense intended, and sincerely hope none was taken.

  9. Tia Will

    Frankly

    On a more serious note :

    A bike rider that crashes because of a light is responsible for his own crash.  Apparently he was speeding or driving recklessly or was impaired. ” 

    Regardless of who is responsible for the crash, my understanding of a primary role of the police, for which they are paid, is protection and aide to the public. Once the police officer had recognized a citizen in distress, regardless of the cause of that distress, my understanding is that he has a duty to ensure the well being of that citizen. As a first responder, the police have an obligation to come to the assistance of a citizen in distress. It would appear from the account, and from Officer Pytel’s assessment of the situation, that the officer did not fulfill his duties in an appropriate manner.

    Also, please site any evidence you have that the bike rider was in any way impaired or speeding or behaving recklessly. I have fallen off my bike because of striking a rock in the road that was not clearly visible to me. I think that you are trying way too hard to vilify the bike rider in this instance and by comparison exonerate the officer despite Officer Pytel’s assessment.  For me, this is taking what I agree is a relatively minor incident and turning it into a defense of what even the police investigator is not defending.

    1. Frankly

      I can just see the very capable intelligent officer Pytel sigh and say the right things to placate our city of hyper-sensitive reactionaries… while thinking that this is pretty much all about nothing.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        I can just see the very capable intelligent officer Pytel sigh and say the right things to placate our city of hyper-sensitive reactionaries… while thinking that this is pretty much all about nothing.”

        You can tell  yourself any story you like about Officer Pytel’s motivations. Just be aware that you are probably as likely to be correct about what is going on in his mind as your are about what is going on in mine.  In other words…. not so much.

        1. Frankly

          Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Now THAT was funny!

          But I have cops in my family, and no liberal OBGYNs.  So I do have a better proability of knowing what was on the cop’s mind.  And yes, I probably never really know what is really on your mind.

    2. zaqzaq

      The police should always stop to make sure the person is ok.  It is possible that the officer was in a hurry to locate the suicidal individual and did not stick around and exchange pleasantries with the man on the bike.  I can only imagine the complaint if the officer spent to much time with the man on a bike and the suicidal man was on the next block and killed himself while the officer was delayed.

      Wasn’t there a suicidal man with a gun that shot himself in the head at the police station a couple of years ago?  All the cops were out looking for him and he came to them.

      Maybe the bicyclist ran into a brush pile in the bike lane.  Is the guy now suing the city for damages?  Always someone else’s fault.  No personal responsibility.

  10. Tia Will

    zaqzaq

    It is possible that the officer was in a hurry to locate the suicidal individual and did not stick around and exchange pleasantries with the man on the bike. “

    This had also occurred to me. However, I cannot imagine the time being so precious that he could not call out that he would radio for help if needed. If he had time for a brusque exchange, surely he would have also had time for a civil exchange.

  11. Tia Will

    zaqzaq

    So what was the demeanor of the bicyclist? “

    Irrelevant from my point of view. The police officer is paid to protect the bicyclist. I sincerely doubt that the bicyclist is paid to be polite to the police officer. As I posted a few days ago, patient’s can address me as they choose. Since it is part of my job to remain professional and provide care at all times, I am expected to do so regardless of how the patient chooses to speak to me. I draw the line at physical threats, but will tolerate most anything else with a smile including ruddiness and threats to my licensure or job.

     

    1. zaqzaq

      For all you know the bicyclist was standing there cussing at the officer.  He looked uninjured and the officer left to finish his call looking for the suicidal man.  Did the man ask for help?  Did he man look injured?  When did this back injury manifest itself?  Is the back injury just an excuse to hit the jackpot in a civil lawsuit?  So many questions and no answers.

      1. David Greenwald

        Did you miss this part:

        “That being said, when you did crash, the officer should have gotten out of his car and engaged in a more courteous/polite conversation with you to determine whether you were injured or not.”

        Part of this incident was recorded on his in-car camera and, Assistant Chief Pytel acknowledges, “it is clear the tone and manner in which he communicated with you was short and abrupt. Therefore, your allegation that the officer did not engage in professional conduct is Sustained, meaning we do find the officer violated a Department Rule and Regulation. Further, the officer should have provided his name to you when you requested it. Therefore, that allegation was Sustained as well.”

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