The Eye in the Sky in the Hand: How Video Cameras in Smartphones are Finally Beginning to Bring Police to Justice
by Paul Levinson
For the first time in human history, the ubiquity of video cameras in smartphones has made police misconduct publicly accessible to the world at large, including on the Internet, television screens, and in courts of law. This paper will explore the modern history of this revolutionary development, beginning with the 1991 police beating and bystander videotaping of Rodney King, through the role of video cameras in the hands of citizen journalists in Occupy Wall Street, and major cases of police killing unarmed civilians in 2014 and 2015. The uneven impact of this on the judicial system - including not-guilty verdicts and charges not filed by prosecutors - will be explored, as well as the ethics and logistics of police body cams and their impact on police work and democracy, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s reasonably clear that police cannot just continue doing business as usual in this new panoptical environment in everyone’s hands. The question is what role will the police play, how will they be expected to perform and held to account, when this new world becomes universally recognized.
Full conference program here.