The ubiquitous cell phone camera, coupled with social media, is rapidly changing how police act. No longer can they be assured of, sometimes literally, getting away with murder. If someone hadn’t videoed police officer Michael Thomas Slager shooting Walter Scott in the back then planting a Taser on him, Slager probably would have walked away free. Instead, Slager will be arrested for murder.
Ditto for McKinney TX police officer Eric Casebolt, who has resigned after attacking teenagers at a pool party and Tracey Carver-Allbritton who apparently instigated the fight that led to the police being called. Again, cell phone video showed the world what happened. Then, a savvy tweet from Dallas For Change went so viral that Carver-Allbriton has been suspended from her job, showing the power and reach of social media.
We increasingly are living in a 24/7 world of surveillance. Sometimes we can be the ones doing the surveillance too. With Periscope or Meerkat, video can easily be streamed live to Twitter. Videos can quickly be uploaded to YouTube. This is a powerful tool in documenting police brutality, riots, unrest, etc., especially when used along with social media, to get a viral buzz going. (In police brutality situations, it could be crucial to upload the video quickly, both so people can see it and so police can’t grab your cell phone and destroy the video.)
With cell phone cameras everywhere, as well as 24/7 video surveillance, it will be increasingly difficult for police (and the rest of us) to lie about and hide what we do.