According to the Houston Police Department description and mission statement, cops want to be professional and accountable. So how is it that most cop cars don’t have video or audio recorders? Wouldn’t that be one of the best ways to meet HPD’s twin goals? Technology to record what cops do when they interact with civilians has been around for decades.
(As a taxpayer, I’d also like recordings to show how much time Houston’s finest are actually doing their jobs as opposed to sitting in a parking lot, running personal errands, talking on their cell phones, or eating lunch at a discount—all of which happens a lot more than most imagine.)
In 2013, the actual budget for the Houston Police Department was $621,000,000. That’s over half a billion dollars. Surely some of that money could be used to buy video and audio equipment.
Based on my experience of handling hundreds, if not thousands, of criminal cases involving traffic stops—usually resulting in charges of driving while intoxicated or drug possession—I am convinced that cops don’t want recording devices because they don’t want to be held to standards of accountability or professionalism. That’s why so many cops oppose body cams.
In the rare case where a cop car has a video or audio recording, it almost always casts doubt on the cop’s credibility. For example, the cop may claim that the defendant in a drug or DWI case changed lanes without signaling. The prosecutor believes him because, well, he’s a cop. I investigate and uncover a video recording that shows the defendant did NOT change lanes without signaling. Instead, the cop lied to justify an otherwise unjustified, illegal stop.
Do you think the prosecutors ever show emotion or anger when they find out a cop lied? Nope. They just dismiss the case and go on to the next one…and keep taking the same disingenuous position that a cop just wouldn’t lie.
Any police officer who opposes patrol car recorders or body cams needs to find another job. In taking this position, they’re basically avoiding being held to demonstrable standards of professionalism and accountability.
That’s not the kind of cop I want, or we deserve, on the streets of Houston.
Civilians should never be held under surveillance without probable cause and/or a warrant. But where cops are concerned, the more surveillance the better. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and the most effective deterrent against police misconduct is to have Big Brother watching them. Constantly.
For over 25 years , we’ve been defending clients in all types of cases across Harris County and the state of Texas, from DWI and drug possession charges to white collar crimes and sexual assault allegations. Please browse our site to see our areas of expertise.
Here at the Neal Davis Law Firm, we hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of success in achieving the best outcome for your case. Our offices are located just south of the University of Houston-Downtown on Franklin St., nearby the criminal courthouse. Contact us today to discuss your case with one of our skilled criminal defense attorneys.