Target: St. Louis Chief of Police Sam Dotson
Goal: Suspend police officer for disabling dashboard camera during suspicious arrest.
Several instances of police officers disabling dashboard cameras in patrol cars have increased suspicion of unnecessary force and increased tension between citizens and authorities. The latest involves officers from the St. Louis Police Department in a case that suggests they had something more to hide. Officer Kelli Swinton allegedly paused a confrontation with a suspect to address the camera recording, alerting the other officers to wait until the camera is off to continue their actions. Urge the St. Louis Chief of Police to address the issue of disabling cameras and properly reprimand the officers involved.
The suspect involved in the arrest is Cortez Bufford. He was taken to the hospital following the incident for injuries to the head and back. Bufford has since hired an attorney to sue the police department for the injuries inflicted. He was initially pulled over for speeding; however, police reported possession of marijuana and a possible weapon. Both charges have since been dropped as there is no proof to suggest the presence of either. Without every detail present, it is difficult to determine whether officers had the right to arrest Bufford. However, disabling the dashboard camera certainly does not help the officers’ case, especially since Bufford suffered multiple injuries in their hands.
The use of dashboard cameras is to ensure the truth is revealed and increase incentive for officers to act according to protocol. Disabling a camera in the middle of apprehending a suspect is dangerous for the individual in custody and the officers involved. Without proper evidence, the truth may never be revealed and what may have been a simple case before is now much more complicated for all involved. Urge the Chief of Police to suspend the officers involved and vow to never let this happen again.
Dear Chief Dotson,
The use of dashboard cameras in patrol cars is an issue of safety for suspects and officers. It serves as an incredibly important tool in revealing the truth. There is very little reason for an officer to disable the camera, especially in the middle of detaining a suspect. In the recent case of officer Kelli Swinton, I urge you to properly punish her as well as the other officers involved and ensure this does not happen in future cases.
Due to a lack of evidence and the incriminating choice to disable the camera, it is unclear what exactly happened and whether the officers acted according to protocol. Regardless, what should be taken from this instance is that it is not acceptable for this to happen again. Future cases will be much simpler, and it will not appear as though the officers were using unnecessary force, if clear evidence is provided. That is the objective of the dashboard cameras, and disabling this resource is not consistent with the intent of police officers to protect and serve. I encourage you to reprimand the officers involved and ensure dashboard cameras are always in use.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons