Why Police Accountability Matters and How You Can Help

It’s the start of a new August, but the volatile year we’ve been embarking on is far from over. With the election less than a 100 days away and racial tensions sparking like a wildfire, the past few weeks haven’t been the most peaceful–at home or abroad. Recently, the North Carolina governor, Pat McCrory, passed a bill that would make it extremely difficult for the public to access police body cams and dashcam videos–even the citizens who are in the videos. McCrory did so in light of the recent police shootings of unarmed citizens that have taken the country and media by storm. In an effort to uphold “privacy” and increase “trust” McCrory sent a message to our state that if one of these shootings were to occur in NC, the public wouldn’t have a transparent law enforcement to turn to. Why does this matter?

Many people criticize the release of dash cam and body cam footage because they feel it causes the public to rush to judgment about the encounter and subsequently castigate the police. While this may be the case in some instances, police video is crucial to understanding how to solve the issue of police brutality. It helps us to see what may have gone wrong during the event, and to verify the validity of eyewitness accounts. Footage from police cameras are often the only voice that can speak for victims (who are usually minorities) — and Pat McCrory has just silenced that voice.

I strongly believe that offices of public service have a responsibility to the community to be honest about and accountable for their actions. Public officials should have so much confidence in their actions that they don’t have to hide them. Public officials should be willing to admit when they have acted wrongly or made a decision that was not in the best interest of the public. Leaders, such as McCrory, should have enough confidence in their law enforcement to not worry about such a shooting happening in their state. And if McCrory felt there was concern that an unarmed civilian may lose his life at the hands of an officer in NC (as it has before), then he should have implemented change to ensure that preventative measures are taken place to improve our state. Instead, McCrory is worried about the “liberal media” descending on officers who weren’t probably trained or fit for their job in the first place. That’s not protecting your citizens or your officers. The culture of secrecy and refusal to account for law enforcement’s actions is why we have such a divisive conversation about police brutality.

Of course, under the new law, third party footage is still protected by the 1st Amendment, but third party video isn’t always present. If we live in a society where our public servants aren’t obligated to share evidence and information that matters to the public’s safety and community relations, then there will never be mutual trust. This law drives a further wedge between communities of people who already have strained communication. It has to be repealed and we have to make noise. You can help!

We have nearly 3,000 signatures on this Change.org petition, please take a moment to sign your name and share on social media. Families of these victims shouldn’t have to go through hurtful, lengthy court proceedings for just a slim chance to see what happened to their loved ones. Americans deserve better and the more we mobilize and unite to create change, our society can become a more ethical place. We have partnered with MTV’s ElectThis to gain more exposure, but we still need you. Share this post, and tell your friends about the importance of police accountability in the quest to heal our broken land.