Should we place the recent announcement by Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State that officers and men of the Nigerian police in the state will soon be provided with body-mounted cameras, in the basket of wins from the #EndSARS revolt? Can we identify some of the other wins from the #EndSARS revolt apart from the Panel’s recommendation of cash payments to identified victims of police brutality over the years?
Will the proposed body-mounted cameras for Lagos police officers help to win the hearts of those who have long argued for police reforms, if from the use of the body-mounted cameras, people notice appreciable improvement in the people-police engagement in the state?
How many will question the power of innovative solutions to situations and conditions that have left many institutions prostrate if the use of body-mounted cameras by the police help in making the force more winsome, courteous and more effective?
While it is not a one-size fit all solution, its inherent capability as a tool that amplifies a sense of responsibility over its user, commends itself to us (imagine for a moment the implication of turning off the camera while the officer is on duty – why turn it off?)
And in a season when many people are desperate for wins that will catalyze the process for other wins, the proposed plan by Governor Sanwo-Olu, becomes a welcome development. Also, it is a huge reminder that to attempt to make a difference in the age of innovation without subscribing to innovative thinking, is futile.
Would to God that this passionate flame light up the countless unlit torches littering the landscape. Would to God that some of the many flames extinguished directly or indirectly by the actions of police officers over the years, find a new light from this development. And to borrow a motif most farmers know too well, would to God that the necessary supply of water to this seed, be made unhindered by those whose duty it is to make sure the idea receives all the necessary support to make it work. So that the Superintendent of Increase, who’s ever waiting for those who sow and water their seed in hope, may crown their efforts with increase, as he is always wont to do.
Lastly, would to God that conversations may linger yet around this initiative, especially what it portends for policing generally across the state. Exploring and interrogating the finer details and possibilities inherent in the initiative will provide valuable education for the populace. Reminding everyone, especially the officers that the body-mounted cameras are only tools, and as is common with most tools, they are neutral. They have no mind of their own. They assume the tendencies and character of their user. That is, any officer given a body-camera whose dominant tendencies and character do not align with the noble ideals of policing, will turn the tool into a device of oppression.
Conversations around the subject will also help to clear some of the doubts about the intentions of government. As well as allow the chance to throw in the bit about the development being a practice that has been adopted in other jurisdictions considered as developed societies. Instructively, Malaysia has just announced a similar plan to provide its police officers with body-cameras – many days after Governor Sanwo-Olu made his own announcement.