, Newburyport, MA

February 12, 2013

Wrong to take away vote on dash cams

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

The elected officials packed Seabrook’s Deliberative Session on Feb. 5 and zeroed out a popular measure to install dash cameras in all of Seabrook’s police cruisers, which are quickly becoming standard nationwide for gathering evidence, catching criminals, deterring bad acts at pullovers and improving police accountability and public safety.

The same elected officials who are asking voters to approve over $57 million in expenditures on March 12, including the school warrant articles, have been telling voters that even $2,800 (about 18 cents per household) would be “too much for the taxpayers to bear.”

Aspiring Selectman Paula Wood argued loudly that department heads should be allowed to run their department however they want, as though the taxpayers have no say in the matter. Selectman Aboul Kahn has repeated his mantra that no one else in town has told him about problems with any Seabrook officers. Many tell me that they’ve complained to him, to no avail. Only Selectman Kelly supported the idea in principle.

Career criminals avoid towns where homeowners are armed or police have cameras. Tempers flared that private citizens would bypass selectmen to ensure that police pullovers were recorded on audio and video, showing juries — and the public — how officers, citizens, criminals and even elected officials and their relatives are behaving during DUI stops.

To me, citizen’s petitions are about values — who we are, what we’re about as Americans. We the people recognized and attempted to address a problem that the elected officials will not. Does it raise a red flag when a police union and politicians prevent accountability, even taking away our right to vote on such a needed measure? What do they have to hide? Honest officers and citizens have nothing to fear from video.

Max Abramson