Ailts: MPD in need of serious reform after Damond shooting

Cutting corners has negative consequences, as the shooting of Justine Damond shows.

by Ellen Ailts

The recent shooting of Justine Damond has sparked mass outrage and garnered a considerable amount of media attention, national and international. It is appalling there was no body cam footage available for this incident, especially so soon after the Philando Castile shooting. The Minneapolis Police Department has decided to expand body cam usage and now requires officers to activate them before “any contact with a reporting person, victim, suspect or witness” — but it is imperative that these updated rules are strictly enforced and that the public has increased access to that footage.

More transparency between the police and the public is absolutely necessary at this point. The fact these officers did not turn on their cameras, even while in contact with civilians, as was protocol at the time of the shootings, doesn’t indicate that the department was truly committed to making changes in the wake of previous shootings.

Issues of accountability are at the forefront of this incident. Our government and law enforcement agencies need to reassess how to hold their own employees responsible. It seems a theme of our era that, throughout our government, public servants fail to be transparent and be held answerable to the public, and this demands a need for changes within the practices of our government, specifically through elevating values of transparency and accountability.

There are glaring flaws in the current practices of police beyond issues of body cams — accountability culture within our institutions of authority needs to be developed, aided by an improved system of internal prosecution. The government cannot continue going on as it has been, with such an obvious lack of respect for its citizenry. In making future decisions regarding accountability standards, the city of Minneapolis should keep in mind the current tenuity of public trust.