Memphis Skycops: Good or Bad?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Memphis police department has cameras or Skycops installed all around its’ city to record live surveillance of their streets to catch any possible criminal activity and have it stored in a police retrieval data system. Police officers and officials have access to and can tap into the camera to retrieve the data but also zoom in on any possible crime scene happening in real-time. As stated in the NY Times, “…all of which send back live feeds to the Police Department’s real-time crime center. Operators there can pan and zoom the cameras like the one providing footage in this case, which has a range of about 200 feet.” Law enforcement officials advocate for Skycop cameras for their combativeness against street crime and aid in decreasing any possible terrorism, but even after Memphis had its; installation, there was no difference in crime dropping.


The tragic death of Tyre Nichols was captured on camera and showed the world the brutality Black men face every day and how not only the disregard for a human’s life but his rights can be taken away just like that. Most cases like these usually have little to no proof that an incident like this one ever existed because it wasn’t shot on camera, except in the case of Nichols, where a camera called Skycop captured over a 30-minute video of what led to Nichols death.“The footage showed the officers kicking Mr. Nichols and pummeling him with a baton. Minutes later, he could be seen slumped on the ground against a police car, without receiving any care from officers or medics who had arrived at the scene,” said by NY Times. This footage allowed the officers involved to be charged and help be brought to justice. 


These around-the-clock police cameras have faced much public scrutiny due to yet another police presence meant to protect communities, but the people feel the exact opposite making it known it’s not the cameras. Black communities, they are worried about the people who are in charge of them who may attempt to hide any police misconduct trying to be brought to light. Even some officials think crime is going to be committed regardless if these Skycops are installed or not. Still, they should be there to bring brutal beatings like this one to light and receive justice for the victims and prove police misconduct on camera, yet Nichols seems to be the only one to have done something about it. “There have been cases, he noted, where video footage had clearly shown police aggression, but they had not resulted in criminal charges, like that involving Eric Garner, the 43-year-old Black man from Staten Island who died in 2014 after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold,” according to the NY Times. Suppose cases are resulting in no criminal charges, even after video evidence proving otherwise from a camera meant to combat police misconduct or even the risk of tampering with video surveillance to hide police misconduct. Is Skycop an actual good or bad thing? How much help are they really to Black communities when it’s another band-aid on the cement crack on a much bigger wall of the broken justice system when it comes to proving how little lives are to those within the law.