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On polite police

The Register is reporting on a pilot program in the UK under which police officers will have video cameras sticking out of their helmets. The goal is to encourage good behavior on the part of suspects (and, I suppose, on the part of police officers).
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Written by Ed Gottsman on

The Register is reporting on a pilot program in the UK under which police officers will have video cameras sticking out of their helmets. The goal is to encourage good behavior on the part of suspects (and, I suppose, on the part of police officers).

So What? I've long thought that ubiquitous video cameras will breed new levels of politeness in the citizenry, but it recently hit me that there's going to be another area where we'll see a significant impact: Bars.

That's right. Imagine a bar around midnight a few years from now, full of drunken patrons each with a miniature cell phone-connected lens implanted (cyclops-like) in his or her forehead. Why use such a thing? To deter crime, to recall names, to capture precious moments--whatever. We'll all have them and they'll be on most of the time.

What's wrong with the bar scene described above? Simple: You'd have to be crazy to be drunk in front of those cameras. Slurred speech, lewd jokes, and everything else that goes with a late night on the town...the mind boggles. People won't want their drunken antics taped and posted on Facebook. I mean, talk about your career-limiting moves and forget about getting elected.

But back to the police. Sometimes, being polite is not tenable. Under those circumstances, it'll be tempting to turn off your camera (if that's technically possible) in order to avoid later criticism. I don't think that'll fly: A gap in the record won't go down well with juries or the press. So cameras may keep the UK police polite whether it's tenable or not. And our own cameras will keep would-be muggers polite, as well (I guess that's the way to look at it). Which is nice...but not much compensation for having to drink alone.

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