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Should Police Be Watched by an Unblinking Eye?

BALTIMORE— For black men, routine encounters with police are loaded with the possibility of injury or death. Talk of equipping police officers with body cameras, fueled by the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a Ferguson, Mo. police officer, is reaching a crescendo in the wake of episodes of alleged brutality and over-reaction by police in Baltimore, Md.

Baltimore police officers are under investigation following the violent arrest of a man outside Melba’s Place, a nightclub in the 3100 block of Greenmount Avenue Sept. 23 . The video shows Jamar Kennedy, 29, being struck repeatedly by officers using police batons to qwell a street brawl between Kennedy and the club’s bouncer.

The nightclub incident is only the latest in a string of violent police-citizen encounters in Baltimore. City officials are investigating another violent arrest videotaped in mid-September at North and Greenmount avenues. That has resulted in a $5 million lawsuit against the city alleging police brutality.

“I was shocked outraged and disgusted,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said after seeing the videos. Batts said in a recent press release that for the past two years rebuilding and reforming the police department has been at the top of his agenda, with the cost and benefits of body cameras currently under department review.

Baltimore Councilman Carl Strokes, noting that the city has been forced to pay millions to settle similar cases since 2011, said he and other lawmakers are eager to stem the trend of injury and death at the hands of police in what should be routine arrests of unarmed suspects.

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