What if there was a social media page where police agencies could post video from body cams, along with detailed explanations of what’s happening in the footage? What if police trainers and other law enforcement experts could engage with curious civilians in a rational and reasonable dialogue about videos posted to social media? Imagine the possibility of bridging the knowledge gap between people who are professional LEOs and the public they’ve sworn to protect.
Axon Enterprise, Inc. (formerly TASER International), the leading manufacturer of body-worn cameras, is not merely imagining such a thing. The company has set up a non-branded Facebook page called “True Policing,” with the intent of fostering civil discourse between law enforcement and community members.
With so many on social media “analyzing” police videos with little or no knowledge of police training, policy, or the law, “True Policing” hopes to educate the public and foster a more positive perception of law enforcement, through real-life videos. You can access it at: www.facebook.com/TruePolicing.
Darren Steele, Axon’s senior VP of marketing, told Force Science News: “People love stories about cops. But even though there’s no shortage of books, movies, and media accounts of police actions, there’s rarely a chance to see things from the cop’s point of view. It’s easy to get a skewed perspective of what real, everyday police work is like. And although it’s important for us as a society to shine a light on policing when it goes wrong, it’s also important for us to recognize when it goes right.
“By showcasing and discussing body camera footage taken from the cop’s point of view, we’ll explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of policing in a civil, constructive way.”
THE HOPE OF “CIVIL DIALOGUE”
The company has begun to post videos that are already out in the public, having secured permissions to reuse them from agencies that generated them. As the project gains momentum, the hope is that the page will become somewhat self-sustaining, with agencies from across North America proactively posting their own videos and commentary for public viewing and comment.
Each will be accompanied by either the agency’s or a public safety expert’s perspective of what happened, why certain decisions were made, and exactly is going on in that footage.
Then, in the comments area, people will have what the company hopes will be “civil discourse” from a wide array of individuals, ranging from attorneys, academy instructors, private sector trainers, command staff, line officers, and of course, the general public.
The company is fully aware that the page will surely attract the “haters” and “trolls” who seem to have a stranglehold on just about any online discussion about law enforcement these days. But, Steele says, “our hope is that police and the communities they support will engage in a constructive dialogue that drowns out those who lack the desire to respectfully participate.”
The intention is to offer a wide variety of videos that run the gamut of what cops encounter every day on the street—some positive, others funny, and of course, many controversial. Once the site is largely self-sustaining, with moderate monitoring, the content will be largely determined by the agencies that participate.
“This isn’t to be police propaganda,” Steele says. “These conversations can go in several different directions. As long as they are constructive and civil, we believe some healthy moments of inspiration can result from the dialogue.”
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