Even a cell phone camera can help ensure justice

It’s the public’s job to hold those in public office accountable for their actions. There are many ways to go about doing this, such as holding meetings or writing letters to the editor. The mobile technology of cell phone cameras can now be added to that list, as there are three videos in existence shot with said technology that documented excessive use of police force in Los Angeles.

Considered by some to merely be a neat feature on one’s cell phone to film various forms of debauchery, concerned citizens now see using cell phone cameras as an effective method to share their concerns with others throughout the country.

Google’s YouTube is one avenue people are using to this end. Visual images can impact people, and if they are not provoked to do something after reading about excessive use of police force, they be more inclined to do so after seeing it actually being carried out.

Just as people have used the text messaging feature on cell phones to help others and to escape peril themselves – a 14-year-old girl from South Carolina who was kidnapped text messaged her mother on her captor’s phone while he was asleep – the camera feature is also being used for good. As with any other technology, though, it has its downfalls and imperfections.

Decisions cannot be made on the sole basis of cell phone videos, as William Bratton, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, noted.

“I cannot make judgments based solely on videos or portions of videos,” he said to the Associated Press.

Bratton is right. The video may only show part of what really happened, or the video quality may not be good enough to identify individuals participating. However, these videos are turning out to be the instigators of question and change.

“(The LAPD) was a cowboy department, a department that was very quick on the trigger, and it is hard to root out those practices from the past. That’s why the cameras are important,” Ramona Ripston, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, said to the AP.

In Los Angeles and elsewhere in the country, one fact is certain: When it comes to forwarding justice in society and ensuring that public officials do not abuse their power, average citizens had better keep their cell phone cameras rolling.