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Monday, March 9, 2009

You Will Never See Videos Of Police Brutality In A Seattle Holding Cell

While many people all over the world are now familiar with the case of Malika Calhoun thanks to the video (at top) that showed a King County Sheriff's Deputy assaulting the 15-year-old girl in a holding cell, some people still mistakenly assume that this video came from a Seattle holding cell.

(If you did, don't feel bad. Even one of Seattle's alternative news weeklies The Stranger made that mistake too).

It didn't, the video came from cameras set up in a SeaTac holding cell that is used by King County Sheriff Deputies, not a Seattle Police Department holding cell.

In fact, it would be impossible for you to see such a video if it showed Seattle Police officers abusing a detainee in a Seattle holding cell.


The reason you would never see a video of a Seattle Police officer assaulting a detainee isn't because a Seattle Police officer would never do such a thing. Nor is it because of privacy laws and contractual agreements that keep such records and recordings out of the public view. And no, it's not because the city's lawyers are so much better at convincing judges to keep such evidence out of the public view.

Quite simply, it's because there are no cameras in any Seattle Police Department precinct holding cells. In fact, as far as we know, there aren't any cameras anywhere inside any Seattle Police Department precinct.

So, if Malika Calhoun had been arrested by a Seattle Police officer and the same thing occurred, nobody would ever know and Malika would be facing charges of assaulting an officer for the beating she received. She would simply become another one of the nameless victims of police misconduct that never have their case make it to the light of day.

The city of Seattle has been trying to get cameras put into areas of Seattle police precincts where detainees might be held, interviewed, or transported for years now. But, progress has been slow due to opposition by the Seattle Police Officers Guild that has opposed the idea of cameras in precincts due to "privacy concerns". This has left the city and the Seattle Police Department struggling to figure out how to implement a policy governing the use of cameras in holding areas that the police union would agree to.

Unfortunately, as best we can currently tell, the current negotiations only cover cameras in holding cells themselves and do not apply to areas where detainees might be interrogated or moved... and the establishment of a policy that governs the use of cameras is still not finalized, which means the installation of such cameras may still be questionable given the current state of the economy even if there ever is a finalized agreement between the city and the police union.

In the meantime, rest assured that you'll never see a video of Seattle's finest beating on a teenage girl in a holding cell any time soon...


Anonymous said...

Yet they put security cameras up in Cal Anderson Park...

Packratt said...

Well, of course the police don't mind invading your privacy in a public place...

...and most private employers don't have problems putting cameras in that monitor their employees and customers...

But lord help you if you want to put video cameras in a building paid for by public money that would monitor what public employees that are paid by taxpayers do during work hours that you pay for.

Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

If thats how a cop acts when being watched one can only wonder how much worse they behave when there are no witnesses. He's just one of many cops who walk around full of rage; with no professionalism or self control at all. They're nothing but a bunch of bullies and lowlifes on a power/ego trip.

Packratt said...

That's the point exactly. There is only one reason for the opposition to putting cameras in areas where police interact with detainees... it's that they do things to detainees that they don't want the public to know about.

...and given the stories I hear about officers punching detainees while they're handcuffed "just to teach them a lesson", I'm pretty sure that it's not because the officers feel that it would invade their "privacy".

Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.

Behind The Blue Wall said...

There's no justification possible for not having cameras.

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