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Win It All

A desperate gambler, in a financial hole, isn't trying to win, really. It's not that simple for him. He needs to win just enough so he can break even with the looming debts in his head, and then the slate will be wiped clean and he can walk away with a clear conscience. But! Once he beats the odds and actually wins just enough to break even, the siren call starts up again: Why not keep going? An hour ago you were a loser. Now you're a winner. And we all know how that ends. Knowing how it all ends is the main problem with a lot of gambling movies, and "Win It All" is no exception.

Win It All

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In the third collaboration between Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson ("Drinking Buddies," "Digging for Fire"), chronic loser Eddie (Johnson) tries to get his act together, encouraged by his long-suffering brother, his Gamblers Anonymous sponsor, and a new romantic interest. Eddie doesn't have a job. He plays poker at night. He's always strapped for cash. From the way his brother Ron (Joe Lo Truglio) treats him, you can tell that Eddie has always been a problem, the guy who needs a loan, the guy with grandiose unrealistic plans, the guy who can't settle down.

The inciting incident of "Win It All" occurs when a scary gangster-type named Michael (José Antonio García) asks Eddie to hold onto a duffel bag for him while he does a stint in prison. He'll pay Eddie $10,000 just for keeping the bag safe. However: Eddie is not allowed to look in the bag. Eddie agrees to this condition, assuming it will be the easiest money he ever made. Michael has to know that Eddie will not be able to resist looking in that bag, right? Michael has to know that if, for example, there happened to be wads of cash in that duffel bag, then leaving it in Eddie's care would be the same thing as throwing the money away?

The inevitable happens. ("Oh no ... oh no ..." Eddie half-laughs half-moans, when he looks in the bag and sees the piles of money.) And of course, he decides to gamble just a little bit of it, so he can pay off some debts. This goes as well as can be expected and the situation very quickly careens out of control. (Occasionally, a calculator counter shows up on the screen, showing how much he's up, how much he's down.)

Eddie is such a hapless loser that throughout the film, you side with those who caution Eddie to stop gambling. There's his brother, who gets him a job in the family landscaping business. Eddie actually starts to enjoy the work. Then, on a night out carousing with friends, he meets Eva (Aislinn Derbez). Eddie is at his charming expansive best that night, and she's attracted to him. Eva's a nurse and a single mother. She leads a serious life and is cautious about whom she allows into it. But Eddie makes her laugh. He's a gentleman. He's inspired to get his act together because of her. There's no teeth in any of this. "Win It All" flops around in generalities.

The best scenes are Eddie's meet-ups with his GA sponsor Gene, played by Keegan-Michael Key as perhaps the worst "sponsor" in the history of sponsors. Eddie tells him his struggles, and Gene bursts out laughing. He calls Eddie an "idiot" over and over again. Later in the film, he makes a suggestion so inappropriate that you can tell that Gene is on the edge of a relapse himself. Key was wonderful in last year's "Don't Think Twice" as the improv comedian who made it big, and here he's hilarious, bold, specific. These scenes spark with an unpredictability and energy that many of the other scenes lack.

With so much attention being paid to body cameras, we have received a lot of thoughtful feedback on our policy recommendations. Overall, considering how early in the discussion we issued our paper, we believe our recommendations have held up remarkably well. But in this revision of the paper we have seen fit to refine our recommendations in some areas, such as when police should record. And of course, the intersection of technology and human behavior being highly complex and unpredictable, we will continue to watch how the technology plays out in the real world, and will most likely continue to update this paper.

Although we at the ACLU generally take a dim view of the proliferation of surveillance cameras in American life, police on-body cameras are different because of their potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers. Historically, there was no documentary evidence of most encounters between police officers and the public, and due to the volatile nature of those encounters, this often resulted in radically divergent accounts of incidents. Cameras have the potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse.

We're against pervasive government surveillance, but when cameras primarily serve the function of allowing public monitoring of the government instead of the other way around, we generally support their use. While we have opposed government video surveillance of public places, for example, we have supported the installation of video cameras on police car dashboards, in prisons, and during interrogations.

At the same time, body cameras have more of a potential to invade privacy than those deployments. Police officers enter people's homes and encounter bystanders, suspects, and victims in a wide variety of sometimes stressful and extreme situations.

On-officer cameras are a significant technology that implicates important, if sometimes conflicting, values. We will have to watch carefully to see how they are deployed and what their effects are over time, but in this paper we outline our current thinking about and recommendations for the technology. These recommendations are subject to change.

Purely from an accountability perspective, the ideal policy for body-worn cameras would be for continuous recording throughout a police officer's shift, eliminating any possibility that an officer could evade the recording of abuses committed on duty.

The problem is that continuous recording raises many thorny privacy issues, for the public as well as for officers. For example, as the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) pointed out in their September 2014 report on body cameras, crime victims (especially victims of rape, abuse, and other sensitive crimes), as well as witnesses who are concerned about retaliation if seen cooperating with police, may have very good reasons for not wanting police to record their interactions. We agree, and support body camera policies designed to offer special privacy protections for these individuals.

On the other hand, if the cameras do not record continuously, that would place them under officer control, which allows them to be manipulated by some officers, undermining their core purpose of detecting police misconduct. Indeed, this is precisely what we are seeing happening in many cases.

Another possibility is that police discretion be mininized by requiring the recording of all encounters with the public. That would allow police to have the cameras off when talking amongst themselves, sitting in a squad care, etc., but through that bright-line rule still allow officers no discretion, and thus no opportunity to circumvent the oversight provided by cameras.

An all-public-encounters policy is what we called for in the first version of this white paper, but (as we first explained here), we have refined that position. The problem is that such a policy does not address the issues mentioned above with witnesses and victims, and greatly intensifies the privacy issues surrounding the cameras, especially in those states where open-records laws do not protect the privacy of routine video footage.

If a police department is to place its cameras under officer control, then it becomes vitally important that it put in place tightly effective means of limiting officers' ability to choose which encounters to record. Policies should require that an officer activate his or her camera when responding to a call for service or at the initiation of any other law enforcement or investigative encounter between a police officer and a member of the public. That would include stops, frisks, searches, arrests, consensual interviews and searches, enforcement actions of all kinds. This should cover any encounter that becomes in any way hostile or confrontational.

If officers are to have control over recording, it is important not only that clear policies be set, but also that they have some teeth. In too many places (Albuquerque, Denver, and other cities) officer compliance with body camera recording and video-handling rules has been terrible. Indeed, researchers report that compliance rates with body camera policies are as low as 30%.

Evidentiary presumptions against a defendant-officer in a criminal proceeding should not be sought, as they are insufficient for meeting the burden of proof in a criminal case and might lead to false convictions.

The great promise of police body cameras is their oversight potential. But equally important are the privacy interests and fair trial rights of individuals who are recorded. Ideally there would be a way to minimize data collection to only what was reasonably needed, but there's currently no technological way to do so.

Therefore it is vital that any deployment of these cameras be accompanied by good privacy policies so that the benefits of the technology are not outweighed by invasions of privacy. The core elements of such a policy follow.

Because of the uniquely intrusive nature of police recordings made inside private homes, officers should be required to provide clear notice of a camera when entering a home, except in circumstances such as an emergency or a raid. And departments should adopt a policy under which officers ask residents whether they wish for a camera to be turned off before they enter a home in non-exigent circumstances. (Citizen requests for cameras to be turned off must themselves be recorded to document such requests.) Cameras should never be turned off in SWAT raids and similar police actions. 041b061a72


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