Opinion: Body cameras for Denver jail deputies, too

From The Denver PostBy Lisa Calderón, Denise Maes and Alex Landau

Denver District Court Chief Judge Michael Martinez recently ruled that the Denver District Attorney’s office should have charged Sheriff Deputy Brady Lovingier with a misdemeanor for slamming shackled inmate Anthony Waller head-first into a courtroom wall in 2012.

Even though Judge Martinez was very critical of the DA’s decision not to prosecute and failure to properly investigate the excessive force complaint, no charges could be filed because the statute of limitations had run.

While the outcome of this case was a blow to community groups that have been challenging DA Mitch Morrissey’s pattern of not prosecuting excessive-force cases, a hollow victory did emerge: a long-overdue official acknowledgment that abuse of civilians by law enforcement does in fact occur and should be prosecuted.

Even though courtroom cameras captured the actions of Lovingier, how much more would we know if he had been wearing a body camera? That includes whether Lovingier, who is white, actually used the racially diminutive term “boy” when referring to Waller, who is black, as has been alleged.

While the use of body cameras has been almost universally supported for police officers on the streets, there has been very little attention to their use in jails. Very few jurisdictions nationwide are using body cameras in jails. San Francisco is currently implementing a pilot project using 30 body cams.

Given the reform efforts underway within the Denver Sheriff Department, it is an opportune time for Denver to implement this emerging technology.

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