More than an hour of body camera footage from three Sioux City Police officers has been made public after a video of an arrest went viral on social media over the weekend.
We are accountable to the public and a big part of that accountability is the camera footage.The videos posted to Facebook showed a black man being confronted and eventually arrested by three officers with one displaying his taser. At no time was the taser or any weapon fired. This show of force, Sioux City Police Sergeant Jeremy McClure says, is called a de-escalation tactic.
"It's appropriate and obviously, we understand that people would be concerned about that and we understand those concerns and that's why it's important for us to explain this type of stuff and why we do what we do and for people to see the full context of what had occurred," he explained.
Complaints have been filed by the man arrested against officers involved in the incident and they are currently under review. McClure says the body camera footage, which the department redacted partially in the public release to keep private information confidential, will be used to help determine if any officer was in the wrong or if the department needs to make changes in policy.
"The body cameras play a huge part in anytime an officer uses a show of force or uses force or has a complaint against them because any contact we have with a citizen has to be recorded by policy," McClure said of the incident. "Again, we take these things very seriously and we try to train as best we can to overcome resistance with the least amount of force possible."
The social media videos only showed a portion of the incident and gained traction quickly, leading the department to release the footage from each officer's body cameras starting from the moment of response to booking at the jail.
"The public has a right to hold us accountable and ask questions. We expect that and welcome it," McClure said. "The body cameras play a huge part in that because, again, that shows more of the situation whereas a viral video clip may only pick up at a certain point or from a certain perspective. It may not tell the whole story."
Officers were not called to confront the man, instead being dispatched there to remove an intoxicated woman. But then the man confronted officers and things escalated. You can read more about the incident here.
"The initial impression is that the officers acted within policy but again, we will review it and see what we can do better," McClure continued.
We are always looking to improve and that is a commitment that we made to the community we serve and it's a commitment that our community deserves and so it's something that we dedicate ourselves to continually say, what can we do better.Last May, community members held peaceful protests outside the Law Enforcement Center following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. The protests were also raising public funds to help equip the department with body cameras which have now been done. Every member of the department is now equipt with a body camera.
"Part of the reason we got the cameras was accountability," McClure said. "If an officer is not following our policy and not living up to our values and the standards we have set, then we either want to change that behavior and fix that or do whatever we need to do to ensure that that officer is acting within our policy or let them go if need be."
Sgt. McClure says the department strives to be transparent and encourages the public to seek answers to any questions or concerns they have.
"It's the public's right to question what we are doing and we expect that and it's invaluable to ensure that you have a police force that you can trust. Especially with the concerns that were brought up over the last year with disproportionate minority contact and issues with social justice and bias policing.
"So, we strive to be an agency that's open, transparent, and better trained and try to prevent issues with explicit and implicit bias," he continued. "We want our community to trust us. We want to work with the members of our community to earn that trust. Trust isn't something that's just given, it's earned."
This incident, which took place last Thursday morning, April 29th, is still under review by the department. To read our full story or to watch the body camera footage for yourself, check out our story here.
SEE THE VIDEO
Web articles from my time at Siouxland News.