So, was the camera on? — Albuquerque Journal Editorial

I’m surprised but pleased to see the Albuquerque Journal ask this question. Let’s hope they keep asking it every day until APD answers.

Editorial: So, was the camera on? | Albuquerque Journal News

By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 12:05 am

OK, now we know – no lapel camera video exists of the Albuquerque Police Department fatal shooting of vehicle theft suspect Mary Hawkes in April.

Leading to the obvious question: Did the officer turn on his camera, or not?

After all this time, APD still isn’t saying whether the camera malfunctioned or whether officer Jeremy Dear, who shot Hawkes three times during a foot chase, failed to activate it. Dear has a history of not producing video recordings during incidents in which he used force. Failure to video record citizen contacts can – and should – result in discipline at APD.

What is to be gained by APD’s refusal to say whether the camera was on? Not giving what should be a very simple answer just leads to the suspicion that it probably wasn’t. But if Dear didn’t turn it on, in violation of department policy, that should factor into his Internal Affairs investigation and any potential discipline.

And revealing whether he claims he turned it on, or not, should not affect his due process rights. But this stonewalling certainly isn’t helping APD.

Less than two weeks before Hawkes was shot, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report that concluded APD has a pattern and practice of violating people’s civil rights and using excessive force. Among criticisms, the DOJ cited officers’ inconsistent use of lapel cameras and the department’s failure to enforce its policy covering their use.

The public deserves to know if its officers are following the rules – and if they essentially feel free to disregard them. APD brass should tell the whole truth in the Hawkes shooting and also start handing out meaningful consequences when its rules aren’t followed.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

Editorial: So, was the camera on? | Albuquerque Journal News

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