Alder Charles Myadze
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Myadze’s Updates
Setting the Record Straight on Body Worn Cameras
Some of my colleagues on the Madison Common Council are opposed to equipping Madison police officers with Body Worn Cameras (BWC). I respect that there are different views on this issue. But, as the old saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.
I would like to address several of the most glaring inaccuracies that have circulated about BWCs.
Because of the looming budget hole, Madison doesn't have the funds to pay for a BWC pilot program.
Communities and leaders of color oppose BWCs.
In the Final Report of the Police Body-Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee, the Committee lists the groups and individuals it heard from who expressed "varying degrees of support for BWCs" including Greg Jones of the NAACP who said "without BWCs, all we have is the account of an incident provided by police, so [i]f we don't have a tool like this, we lose this battle." Judge Everett Mitchell "urged adoption of BWCs" stressing "the importance of BWCs for creating a record that can be used to contest police-officer accounts of incidents." Dr. Floyd Rose of 100 Black Men "told the Committee that BWCs could be part of the solution to policing problems in Madison, but that adopting BWCs should not be done in the absence of making bigger fixes." President Obama supported and funded BWCs.
It is painful to have to point out that four Alders of color – myself, Alder Harrington McKinney, Alder Carter, and President Abbas – all support BWCs. No opponent of BWCs and no Alder of color should presume to make statements that devalue the experiences of other people of color, suggest black or brown people walk in lockstep on issues or worse, that black or brown people who have different opinions are not "leaders."
We should not fund Body Worn Cameras because they are only a tool that does not help rectify or correct racism and disparities in the law enforcement or criminal justice systems.
This is what is called a strawman: it sets up an argument that is not being made in order to tear it down. No one has said that BWCs are in-and-of-themselves the solution to curbing police misconduct or the key to police reform. No one is suggesting that once we fund and implement BWCs that we do not need to make any other changes in order improve policing. BWCs are just that: one tool that has proven its value in our on-going, large scale and urgent efforts to improve policing. BWCs should be implemented in concert with other reforms which Madison is undertaking including the Police Civilian Oversight Board and the Office of the Independent Monitor, with power to conduct its own independent investigations and subpoena documents.
My strong view is that Body Worn Cameras are a common-sense, widely used tool that Madison has studied extensively, earmarked funds to support on a pilot basis, and which have drawn support from individuals – including Judge Mitchell – who are by any measure leaders in the criminal justice system. We should address the question of whether to pilot BWCs based on facts and evidence and once we do that, the need for, and value of, Body Worn Cameras becomes clear. Please click here for a video that powerfully shows the benefits of Body Worn Cameras (warning: the video does contain some scenes of police misconduct that can be disturbing).
I will continue to encourage my colleagues on the Council to vote in favor of implementing the pilot in the Northside precinct that includes areas I represent. If you have questions about BWCs or would like to talk further on this issue, please reach out to me. I look forward to speaking with you.
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