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Video Must Be Embraced By Every Police Officer

Video Must Be Embraced By Every Police Officer

A Wisconsin woman withdrew her complaint Tuesday against the Greendale (WI) police department after a police investigation showed that her racial profiling accusation was a lie.

Katherine Torres alleged that a police officer had pulled her over and asked for her social security card and citizenship status before requesting a license and insurance. A Tuesday police statement revealed video evidence that the police officer, Sgt. Michael Karczewski, had asked Torres and seven others for their social security numbers, but not their citizenship statuses.

Torres withdrew her complaint after she found out there was video evidence of the stop which is exactly why police across the country should embrace this technology.

Unlike what some may want others to believe, law enforcement is one of the most professional, customer service oriented professions on the planet.

How do I know that?

Well, unlike those that want to tell you otherwise, I’ve actually been in the profession for a couple of decades but I also know what every other cop knows.  Police have to be customer service oriented to be successful.

There is a unique skill that good cops have that when they write tickets, citizens thank them or when they show up on someone’s worse day of their life, the police officer can calm the situation while simultaneously providing comfort to those in need.

While the profession is not perfect and any imperfection will undoubtedly show up on the nightly news, million of citizen contacts occur each week in this country with overwhelmingly rave reviews.

I would put the customer service that law enforcement provides above any other profession. Except of course Chick-Fil-A.  No one and I mean no one can beat them but I keep trying as I greet every violator with the words, “my pleasure.”

About The Author

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Travis Yates is a writer and editor at Law Officer. His Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training.

  • michael

    Now is the time for the Police Department to file a criminal complaint against the operator for filing a “False Report to a Law Enforcement Agency.”. Then the Fraternal Order of Police, the bargaining arm for the officer, should initiate a civil action against the operator for, placing the officer’s job in jeopardy and slandering his reputation. Showing videos of traffic stops and other encounters that prove the subject is lying mustbe met withmore than “Oh Well, we proved we did nothing wrong. No harm. No foul”. That is not working.

  • Barbara Ray-Velazquez

    I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant’

  • Barbara Ray-Velazquez

    So what really happened is that the officer asked for social security to confirm identity and she ASSUMED, because her last name was Torres, that it had something to do with immigration, then put the officer’s request and her assumption together as if it were fact. I have found that many people think like this….it is neither rational or logical.

  • Doctor Midnite

    AND a chicken sandwich?

  • LegalBeagle

    Actually, a vehicle stop for traffic enforcement is analytically a Terry encounter. There is ample case law to that effect. What purpose that information serves for this officer under the circumstances is not known to me, but I do know that there is information showing SSNs by state/county of birth, which can be used to confirm parts of the information provided to the officer. I’ve used; not often, but I’ve done it for exactly that kind of reason.

    I concur w/ Mr. Fivey too on the prosecution. and have advocated such for a long time. As to the value of recording, yeah, sometimes. The squad car cameras are more likely worthwhile than the body cams in my view. They have a broader view, and for many officers, these contacts are the most common and at least sometimes thus the most common source of false allegations like this.

    Body cams are a different problem, in that the lens view is often too “fish eye” to show all or even most or a significant portion of what the officer perceived, such as in a use of force situation. It’s not a trivial problem. Another huge problem, at least in some states such as the one in which I work (as an LE legal advisor among other duties) is that the total cost of storing, protecting, retaining, producing for public records requests is staggering. A large agency in this state has them, in part because of a consent decree resulting from fabricated allegations by DOJ (my shocked face, see it?) and spends a ton of money to deal with those issues. Even with technically savvy staff who are very experienced and also familiar with our public records law, the process of redaction and production is really slow, 10-12 minutes per minute of released video. 20 minute incident times 6 officers, a scenario that has happened and will continue to, is a lot of work and cost.

  • LAHeat

    Agree with Fivey. Some state laws alow for that. Then there is always a civil lawsuit by the officer. Just wondering, though, why is a LEO asking for their SS numbers? It’s a T stop? Not an investigative contact/stop.

    • Ruffian31

      I’ve asked for SSN’s if a subject doesn’t have any identification on them. Helps confirm or deny who they are.

  • Samuel Fivey

    Can that department or the sergeant pursue a prosecution against the complainant? With the amount of video out there, knowingly false complaints need to be prosecuted where possible.

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