As you might expect — because a good thing is never entirely a good thing — body cameras worn by police are once again in the news.
Specifically, who has a right to view the footage captured by the cameras? Should the general public be entitled to witness the roadside birth of a baby, the killing of an armed juvenile, or the bloody choreography of a domestic violence call?
Think about it. If the police were called to your residence, would you want them to release the full video of you parading drunkenly in your underwear with a crochet hook sticking out of your back and your badly beaten spouse unconscious in a corner?
It certainly would make for good office gossip. It might even forcibly start you on a new career somewhere the footage isn’t available.
In reality, some say access to the recordings is too tightly controlled by police who refuse to release it for one reason or another.
Others worry about the invasion of privacy were the elements of the less-flattering side of their lives to be posted on YouTube. You might be surprised by how many “likes” your flabby butt might get.
Personally, I’m glad that body cameras didn’t come along until they did. Had my teachers worn them and the footage been shared with the Old Man, I wouldn’t have survived third grade.
As it was, my teachers were restricted to describing my behavior in report cards, notes home and emotional meetings with parents.
Note • “Your son is SATAN! Teaching is forever ruined for me. Please take him to a priest or something. I beg you.”
Me • “She’s lying.”
Body cameras would have meant certain death to me had they been worn by school bus drivers, Sunday school teachers, crossing guards, neighbors, any of my friends’ parents, Scout camp leaders, etc.
None of their verbal reports was entirely believed by my mother or the Old Man — albeit for different reasons.
Mom • “Oh, Bobby wouldn’t do that. I don’t think.”
Old Man • “I’ll take care of it. But are you sure everyone else is still alive? Have you counted?”
I may not have had a great defense based on past behavior, but at least there was the tiniest bit of presumption of innocence based on the fallibility of eyewitness accounts.
Not so with video. What would happen if a girl named Ramona had video of me in a tree with a slingshot. Suddenly, a 300 mph frog fills the viewfinder, followed by a scream, a grunt and a prolonged study of the sky.
The best I could argue is that the frog begged me for the ride, and Ramona just happened to get in the way. No way would that help my defense.
The argument over police body cameras will continue. Personally, I don’t think enough people are wearing them or that there should be any delay in viewing the recordings.
Just off the top of my head, I think bodycams should be worn by elected officials, ecclesiastical leaders dealing with children, all dogs and me.
Speaking of which, if it’s true that your life passes before your eyes when you die, the video of that will most likely be long and embarrassing, no matter who you are. The time to edit future recordings starts now.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.