Viral videos are often used to stoke anger and opposition against police. Now, a growing number of officers are fighting back using the social media mob's own tactics. Some police, both here in the U.S. and abroad, are using their own phones to film interactions with suspects in order to refute claims of racism or misconduct.
G.M. Cox, retired police chief and adjunct professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston State/Tarleton State, understands why police are doing this in the face of media attacks, defunding efforts, and weakened protections for officers. "You've gotta wonder about police officers who feel somewhat abandoned by their administration, and by the political appointees over them," says Cox.
Nevertheless, he feels this particular tactic raises concerns about officer protocol. "If you've got four officers and an individual who is resisting, and three officers are trying to take care of the resisting citizen, and the fourth officer is standing there with a phone recording it, one could argue that if (the fourth officer) would put the phone down, he/she might be able to assist," says Cox.
Another issue is the reliability of video, which often leads to more controversy. "Those cameras, depending on the angle, don't always tell you the full picture," says Cox.
In the current political climate and with modern communication tools, there is no easy solution for police out on the streets. Cox tells KTRH he recommends vigilance and situational awareness for officers, whether they are filming themselves or not. "I told every officer I was ever chief over to assume that every action you are doing is being recorded by somebody," he says. "Every mic is hot, every time you do anything you've got to understand you're being watched."