Melinda Smith and Charley Wilkison at the Capitol.
By John Moritz
CLEAT Public Affairs
Since CLEAT doesn’t seek or accept government grants –the politicians can’t direct our legislative agenda or force us to support anything. We aren’t conflicted or beholden to anyone but our members.
A couple of management-pleasing police unions are trying to bully CLEAT into backing a bad bill. The bill mandates police body cameras, while ignoring officers’ individual privacy rights
Over the past weekend, two prominent management parrots were chest-thumping in the press about how their groups are supporting the legislation because “the communities” favor them.
As they attempted a jab at CLEAT for raising the very legitimate point that any body-camera legislation contain a provision protecting cops’ privacy when matters that have nothing to do with law enforcement are picked up by the recording devices.
CLEAT, they both said, was “grandstanding.” Is that what they call standing up for the rights of officers?
One also bragged about him “having a seat at the table” while the bill was being crafted.
Well, CLEAT had a seat, too. And we used it to stick up for police officers. If private, nonduty-related conversations are captured on video, let’s find a way to redact them just like we’d redact information concerning minors, at-risk victims and related matters, CLEAT’s lobby team said at every meeting.
The bill authors decided to ignore our concerns. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to remain silent on the matter. And it doesn’t mean we are against transparency and accountability.
“We are for body cams, 100 percent,” CLEAT Executive Director Charley Wilkison has told just about every media outlet over the past several weeks. “We always have been. Transparency is a good thing. It helps protect officers’ lives. It helps prosecute criminals and it helps prosecute liars.”
But there’s one thing that body camera legislation must do before CLEAT blindly boards the body-cam bandwagon the parrot unions are riding – and that’s protect the officers who’ll have to wear them.