Gahan: Body cameras utterly redundant in perfect human societies like New Albany’s.


There are times when I feel a fleeting twinge of sympathy for Mayor Jeff Gahan’s handlers, as when he somehow squirms out of their leaden grasp, improvises off script, and unleashes a whopper like this one.

“Fortunately, our community doesn’t feel the pressure to implement a body camera program at this time,” New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said Friday.

The NAPD has a good relationship with the community, and there hasn’t been an outcry from the public or any specific organizations to require officers to wear body cameras, he continued.

It isn’t easy reducing this bizarre sentiment to its most bedrock, fundamental “WTF,” but we must try. First, the link to Daniel Suddeath’s piece in the News and Tribune.

No body cameras for New Albany police, yet

NEW ALBANY — A growing trend locally and in cities throughout the nation has been a call for police officers to be equipped with body cameras.

Well-documented cases, including the police shooting of a man in Louisville last month who was attacking a cop before being fatally wounded, have placed more attention on interactions between law enforcement and the public.

But the New Albany Police Department doesn’t appear likely to be getting body cameras soon, though officials said the idea has been, and will continue to be, a point of discussion.

Interestingly, my fellow mayoral candidate Kevin Zurschmiede heard the same thing I did with reference to cameras, namely that the body cameras already been purchased. Props to KZ for airing the issue, which was denied by Chief Todd Bailey.

Zurschmiede questions recent purchases of NAPD cameras (Suddeath)

NEW ALBANY — There have been some misconceptions by officers when it comes to New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey and Mayor Jeff Gahan’s statements about a body camera program, City Councilman and mayoral candidate Kevin Zurschmiede said Friday.

After a News and Tribune article published Monday about the city’s decision not to implement a body camera program at least in the near future, Zurschmiede said multiple NAPD officers informed him that up to 45 video recorders had been recently purchased by the department.

Such is the state of polarization in America that a truly balanced discussion of the body camera issue is difficult. It may or may not be the case that the NAPD has a “good relationship with the community,” but agreeing to this assertion still does not preclude working to make the relationship better (as the officers with whom I’ve spoken favor) or supporting technological applications capable of providing facts when what matters most is the truth.

Another Police-Involved Shooting Marks a Turning Point in the Debate on Body Cameras, by Kriston Capps (City Lab)

 … Outstanding questions on how body cams should be implemented deserve answers. Should police themselves decide who sees the footage—and what parts people see? Should it be as easy to dial up a local law-enforcement body cam as it is to view footage on a traffic cam? What laws will safeguard the privacy rights of officers? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Legitimate policy concerns notwithstanding, we would not have a clear picture of DuBose’s death without the officer’s body-cam footage. The dark suspicions of his family may be right: Without that body camera, we might not have ever discovered the truth.

There was no clamor, pressure or outcry to install a water park, and yet Gahan was pro-active to the tune of $20 million in park system construction. Perhaps his basic tone deafness pertaining to public safety issues best explains this weird, reactive ambivalence about body cameras.

It should make us all pause and ask: How many other public safety measures are not being considered owing to Gahan’s faulty perceptions of supply-and-demand, and how many potential problems will be addressed only after they occur?

How does this make us “fundamentally better,” Mr. Mayor?