Should We Record all Police Interactions By Default?

In the last week, three corruption cases of police incompetence, apathy and corruption have come to light through surreptitious videos. In the first case, a cop refused to file an FIR of a rape complaint because he said the woman was too old. Then we saw a 10 year old girl who was locked up. And recently we saw 36 cops suspended as they were caught on camera taking bribes. And most recently the cops tried to bribe the parents of a five year old girl.

Recording Has to Become the Norm

Recording Has to Become the Norm

I think it’s obvious to anyone that a lot of our problems are caused by those who’re supposed to help alleviate them. Cops not only do nothing, they actively subvert the course of justice. It’s not as if they don’t know that what they are doing is wrong – they’re fully aware. If any of them knew that a person was recording them, they would not have allowed it or they would have modified their behavior. They can only work in darkness. Transparency is a death blow to corruption and dereliction of duty.

I’m pretty excited over a technology like Google Glass. While many are worried that it’ll invade our privacy, I’m keen to see how it will be used to record public officials taking bribes and generally being uncooperative. I’m a strong proponent of privacy, but government servants have no expectation of it when doing their job. If only every bureaucrat acted as if a camera was pointed at them in their interactions with people, I guarantee you that corruption affecting our daily lives would vanish overnight.

Already I hope that recent exposés will make the police more wary about what they say and how they treat those who come to them for help. You never know when someone will be recording and your words made public. I wish there was a way to have cameras recording everything that happens in police stations with a backup of two days. But it’s impractical and will only cause them to accept money outside or take other evasive manuevers.

What we need is for the traditional “sting” operation to become so commonplace that officials start assuming by default that their actions could be shown to the whole world. Prejudice, bias, incompetence and callousness can only flourish in darkness and secrecy. What we need is the disinfectant of light to clear it out. It will vanish like snow before the onslaught of the sun. We need every person to carry around a sun with them. Little globes of light poking and prodding everywhere so that darkness can never feel safe.

It’s not as if public officials don’t know what is right and wrong. The policewomen who locked up that little girl knew full well what they were doing. They would never have dared had they known that it would become public knowledge. So if you’re thinking of cutting them some slack because they “didn’t know”, don’t. They knew. And they deserve to be shamed and punished. When the technology becomes available, use it everywhere. When you get your passport renewed. When you get your vehicle license. And then put those videos on the web.

It’s time to show India its true face without distortions.

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  1. Agree…


  2. Sraboney says:

    I’m a cynic. Sting operations will not change anything. The thing is, most people join the police because a) the jobs are permanent b) the perks (legal and illegal) are good and c) the power. They are not there to help people or uphold the law. A lot of them are ‘kaam chors’ too. Since their jobs are permanent, why bother going through the hassle of filing a FIR and investigating? And then there is patriarchy.


    • In reply to Sraboney

      Let’s hope that police reforms will kick in and we can have a system that incentives responsiveness instead…

      But if every police officer is wary of being watched, then fear will make them do their jobs at the very least no…?


  3. Sraboney says:

    P.S. we shouldn’t have to secretly record our interactions with public officials to ensure that things get done correctly. There is something very, very wrong with our bureaucracy and country as a whole.


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