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Alder Scott J. Resnick

Alder Scott J. Resnick

Home Address:
661 Mendota Ct # 1404
Madison , WI 53703

Phone: 608-807-7962
Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Act as if All the World Were Watching

August 20, 2014 8:39 AM

There are certain times where technology can shed a new light in our interactions with government. Every hour of the day, residents rely on law enforcement to protect the greater population, fairly enforce the law, and maintain order. To accomplish this task, we have provided our law enforcement agencies both sophisticated and blunt tools, including tools that elected leaders pray are never used. A police officer's interaction with a resident can change the course of an individual's life. Thus, these events demand the highest levels of transparency.

Today, Alder Cheeks and I introduced a resolution that may require the Madison Police Department to use body cameras on its officers. This resolution directs MPD to provide a report to Council on the potential cost and issues relating to camera use, and ensures the department is on the forefront of transparency and accountability.

The City of Madison already has an extensive history with video recording. Squad cars are already deployed with dashboard cameras, felony interviews are recorded, and certain incidents are filmed. These policies were developed over time to both protect the public and officers. Recordings resolve ambiguities in statements and reduce potential liabilities. Body cameras are the next step. 

Body cameras are not a tool designed to be anti-police. In fact, these cameras have the ability to become a useful tool for everyone. They help secure the public from police abuse, while also protecting police officers from false accusations. In other cities where body cameras have been deployed, use of force and accusations of police abuse plummeted. The concept has already been endorsed by the ACLU.

Now, cameras are not a silver bullet for our problems, but they are a step in the right direction. We need to establish policies so both officers and the public are protected from privacy violations. We also need to figure out how to deploy cameras in a cost-efficient manner, determine how long the videos are stored, and how to address open records requests. I know cost will be a concern on some people's minds, but I believe funding these cameras is justified given the protection it will provide for the community. Additionally, the cost of one lawsuit against the city which may be prevented by use of these cameras, more than makes up for the cost of deploying the technology.

I also understand it is not a new concept to deploy body cameras on members of law enforcement. But right now the conversation has only been held at Madison's highest administrative levels. Through my proposal, I hope to begin the public conversation in Madison, a discussion we will likely see in other cities around the country in wake of the horrible events of Ferguson, MO. Law enforcement, like the public, must be engaged in this process, and I look forward to input from the police department's recommendation, when it becomes available. During my time on the Common Council, I have developed great relationships with members of the police force. They serve our community with honor and I greatly respect the work they do to keep our city safe.

I look forward to gathering members of the police department, the police union, community leaders, fellow alders, and residents to talk about our next steps. I would like to hear from everyone in the community. Working together, we can ensure Madison continues to be a leader in community policing practices and maintains an open, transparent government.

Tags: Technology

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