A step towards a safer Maine

Meg Friel, Editor in Chief

In the past month, the lovely city of Portland has come under speculation for an issue that’s been up for debate since Ferguson, Missouri dominated the news: police wearing body cameras. With police brutality becoming more of a topic of interest with every passing day, the idea of wearing body cameras becomes more appealing to those skeptical of the police force and their rights to use weapons.

The idea for body cameras found it’s way to Portland after a fatal shooting back in February. The incident involved 22 year-old Chance David Baker, who was carrying around a pellet gun that look similar to a rifle. Out of fear for his life, and the lives of others, Portland police officer Nicholas Goodman shot Baker against police orders urging the officers not to shoot their guns. Baker died from the gunshot. Goodman was found justified in the shooting.

In wake of the shooting, I believe body cameras should be forced more heavily on police officers throughout the country. There’s a reason these shootings make headline news. We aren’t bringing enough attention to the real issue, which is the lack of responsibility to these few officers who misuse their weapons. These weapons are made to keep us safe, so why do I become overwhelmed with fear when an officer with a gun approaches me? Say what you will, but these shootings that dwindle out after a few weeks stay put in the back of my mind, and make me fear for the lives of myself, my friends, and the diversity of communities throughout the country. There’s something to say for a country that sees these issues come to surface month after month, and always leave the problem unresolved. It feels like an open wound constantly growing without band-aids ever crossing our minds. Body cameras are the solution to this issue.

Many debate that these body cameras will make officers feel like they’re being watched; as though they can’t perform their day-to-day jobs with the threat of being filmed constantly looming over them. But, if officers are doing no wrong, no harm, no foul – correct? It’s not the body cameras that should be restricting these officers, it’s their training and responsibility to be upheld throughout their careers that should be keeping these officers in line. There would be no debate to these shootings if Americans across the country didn’t truly believe that the officers involved in them weren’t in the wrong. Not only this, but that they weren’t in the wrong, and have gotten off scotch-free. Along with this, shouldn’t body cameras also be beneficial to the officers involved in crimes who really weren’t in the wrong? These small devices could be the thing that determines the freedom of an officer just doing his job. This column is not to say that every shooting is the fault of the officer. I believe in certain situations that the use of a gun is justified by an officer. However, these occasions in which we’re uncertain of who to blame, body cameras should be the solution to an issue that has come about several times in the past few years.

I’m sick of waking up and hearing of another unjust shooting. I’m sick of these shootings fading to the dark when the officers involved aren’t proven to be guilty, because it’s the law’s word against a dead man’s. I’m sick of incidents like these making their way so close to home in a city I know and love. I want there to be someone held accountable for these shootings – not just the victims turning in their graves. I wish for a safer America, a safer Maine, and a safer Portland. I hope and pray that body cameras can resolve this issue, and make all our homes a little safer.