Will SF Police Carry Arrest Cameras?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 20, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

How do you fight allegations of abuse against the San Francisco police? With arrest cameras, apparently. After another video surfaced allegedly showing police misconduct, SFPD's new chief Greg Suhr is looking to equip his officers with cameras that will capture arrests on film.

The SFPD would not be the only Bay Area police department to have police arrest cameras. Neighboring city San Jose uses the TASER AXON recorder, reports The San Francisco Examiner.

Equipping the officers with arrest cameras has gotten widespread support, since many police officers believe that they have nothing to hide, according to The San Francisco Examiner.

The announcement came recently, right after San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi released a sixth video showing alleged police misconduct this year. The footage showed several officers entering into an apartment empty-handed, and leaving with bags of allegedly valuables, reports The San Francisco Examiner.

Allegations of police misconduct are not uncommon to police forces across the nation. When police do something illegal, they are liable for it just like any other person.

The difficulty is investigating the incident, and getting a conviction. Police are given immunity for many of the actions they take during the course of their duties. This leeway is built in to allow them to perform their jobs.

But, when police abuse their power, there is recourse for citizens through federal and state laws. A federal statute, Section 1983, allows victims of police misconduct to sue the police officer and agency. Section 1983 makes it illegal for anybody acting under the authority of state law (such as a police officer) to deprive someone of their Constitutional rights - such as their rights against false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, excessive force, or illegal search and seizure.

For the San Francisco police, arrest cameras can help exonerate officers of police misconduct. But, that's only if the footage shows that they are not violating anybody's rights.

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