Civil rights groups who may have previously clamored for the integrations of body cameras into police work are now taking precautionary steps to ensure those cameras are turned off on Inauguration Day .
Groups advocating for civil rights and the First Amendment are expressing concern that the DC Metro Police will be heavy-handed during the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, possibly surveilling those who protest against the incoming President of the United States.
Cameras will only be allowed to be turned on when an officer takes action, which will omit from the video evidence the part that led up to the officer taking the action.
“Those cameras shouldn’t be on,” insisted Monica Hopkins-Maxwell of the American Civil Liberty Union’s’ DC office during an interview with NBC4. “The police shouldn’t be allowed to surveil First Amendment activity and our concern around the availability of body cameras- what is done that data, who looks at that data (and) what that data is used for.”
That said, the ACLU is taking several steps to make it easier for demonstrators to film the police, namely through a smartphone app known as Mobile Justice.
Mobile Justice allows people to report police actions to the ACLU in real time, recording the incident and even making room for witness statements.
“The more people who are watching, the (sic) less incidences of collision between the police and protesters,” Hopkins-Maxwell said.
In addition to civil liberties groups, the federal government will have their eyes on law enforcement as well.
Head of DC Office of Police Complaints Michael Tobin -who is also a retired US Army National Guard Colonel- says his office will have teams dispersed amongst the crowds to ensure the police are on their best behavior.
“We’re going to have five mobile field teams,” Tobin said. “They’re going to be monitoring various routes of the parade route. They’re going to be wearing distinctive clothing and armbands so people will be able to recognize them. They will be equipped with audio and video recording devices and most of the monitors that will be participating in the inauguration are investigators in my office.”
Some critics of this controversial move claim that the allowance of protester’s cameras in the face of a police camera ban will only show a lopsided version of any incidents that occur.
ACLU-trained marshals will also be taking place in the events with instructions to monitor police activity.
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