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Fascist lawmaker introduces bill to criminalize filming police

Police murders

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(NaturalNews) The use of body cameras by police, according to a recent study - the first of its kind - reduces "use of force" incidents as well as "complaints against officers."

Reducing incidents of violence between police and suspects are good things, especially in this day and age when deadly shootings between police and unarmed suspects has created an extremely hyper-sensitive environment between departments and the communities they are there to serve.

However, when it comes to the general public using video cameras to help keep police honest, so to speak, one Texas lawmaker thinks that's just plain wrong - and he's trying to get the practice banned in the Lone Star state.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, has been dealing with a backlash from critics over a measure he filled that makes it a crime for bloggers and independent journalists to film or otherwise photograph police.

The bill, HB 2918, became a target of those on the political left and right - a rare act of bipartisanship, even in Texas.

No, there's no loss of liberty here...

Since the outpouring of criticism, Villalba has said he would add some amendments but has nonetheless aggressively defended his measure. A public hearing was held on the measure March 26.

Breitbart Texas further reported:

When the news broke about HB 2918, it was criticized all across the political spectrum, including significant opposition from free speech advocates and activists who monitor police activities, and Villalba has remained largely unrepentant in his defense of the bill.

In an interview with the news site, Villalba said his measure "does not infringe on constitutional right" or "limit liberty in any way." Just because he says so, however, obviously doesn't make it accurate.

Rebecca L. Robertson, Legal and Policy Director for the ACLU, said in a statement:

"Texans have a First Amendment right to record police officers in public places as they perform their duties. Many high-profile incidents of police abuse, like LAPD officers' beating of Rodney King, would never have been exposed to public scrutiny but for the citizen journalists on the scene who dared to record conduct that they believed was wrong. HB 2918 would deprive us of an important check against abuse of power by the police."

Even more than that, according to the study mentioned above, cameras tend to improve interactions between police and suspects.

"The findings suggest more than a 50% reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions, and nearly ten times more citizens' complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment," the study concludes.

The cameras are being suggested - and used - by more cities and more departments following a series of highly publicized, and often controversial, police shootings over the past year, including one in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and Cleveland. Too many of the shootings involved rookie police officers.

Video works - why ban it?

But there is always another side to the story. While former NYPD Detective Frank Serpico, who admittedly has a bone to pick with his former department, suggests that police are protesting too much and their behavior is "driving a wedge" between them and the publics they serve, not all acts of violence are unjustified. The Ferguson incident is a case in point: A veteran police officer faced being assaulted by a much larger suspect who grabbed for his gun led him to fear for his life and, hence, forced him to use his weapon to defend himself.

Also, the highly publicized - and highly politicized - nature of such shootings has made many officers understandably hesitant to perhaps do all that is truly necessary to protect the public, out of fear he or she will become the next focus of national ire. That doesn't work, either.

Still, groups that have formed explicitly to monitor police in the public interest have often been on the receiving end of arrest or other acts of official intimidation by officers and departments who don't like being filmed.

The answer, if the study mentioned above is any indication, seems to be more, not less, public scrutiny. Banning police monitoring by the public seems unnecessarily punitive, especially in the face of evidence indicating that police self-monitoring reduces violence and complaints of violence.







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