02/21/12 245 W, 1 I - + 7 - 3 Body Cameras For Police Officers

Neat story from today's New York Times, about miniature video cameras and cloud-based storage systems for police officers. They've been developed by Taser International, the company better known for its stun guns. They're the obvious next step from dash cams, and with an equally obvious value: documentation of suspect behavior and confrontations therein. Of course, the camera cuts both ways, and will also document the officer's behavior.

Personal cameras have become a staple in the fire service, or at least with those departments that permit helmet cams. But they've raised plenty of concerns among chief officers and, heck, even peers. Reputation management alone gives some folks pause. (Nobody wants to be shown doing less than their best.) Then there are legal aspects, or presumably legal aspects. (Mr. Blogger isn't a lawyer, nor watches them on television.)

Seems like personal cameras will make law officer's lives easier, and their conduct even more transparent. The explosion of smart phones and social media channels already has everybody watching everyone else. Sure, we've always had cameras, but sharing what we've photographed or recorded is easier than ever. Adding cameras to the bodies of those charged with our protection seems an inevitable next step. And probably a good one. What do our readers in blue think? Exciting, scary, both? All that's left are personal cameras for telecommunicators. That's the footage that we're all wating to see...

Joshua Lott/New York Times photo

I think these are a good idea. The problem with a bystander video is it will be sold to a media outlet. Once the media owns the video it can manipulated anyway they so choose. We’ve all been on at least one call only to see it on the news later and say, “Wow, that’s not the way it happened at all.”. Lately, I’ve been considering looking into front and rear dash cams for my personal vehicles for my own protection. The cameras have become so small they won’t even be noticed from the outside. Sure would help me in court when (not if) someone plows me from the rear. If the camera shows the driver not paying attention to their driving (if they were they wouldn’t have hit me), you’re darn right I’ll sue.
Rescue Ranger - 02/22/12 - 11:16

Hmmm… I don’t know. I am OK with the dash cams. And I like RR’s idea (may have to talk the other half into that). My concern is what happens to the video? OK, you go through a check point, the officer comes up, checks your license, and then says “have a nice day”. What are the legalities of going back to the station, reviewing the recording, and then, based on something that theysaw, or think they saw, and did not have a warrant to search for, they come back and arrest you. I don’t know. Maybe that is a far fetched example. I know the argument would be “well, if you aint’ got nothing to hide…” I am just afraid of the implications of being under surveillance all of the time, even when you don’t know it…
DJ - 02/22/12 - 20:56

I really believe the implication of such cameras is nothing more than to protect the officers from being wrongly accused.
Rescue Ranger - 02/22/12 - 21:01

In my jurisdiction the SRO’s in the schools are experimenting with these. Great idea in my opinion, especially with the new statute requiring interviews with juveniles be recorded while be questioned by law enforcement.
BFD1151 - 02/22/12 - 21:08

That’s a pretty nifty idea, Double R. Wide lens camera, maybe in the corner of front and rear windshield. Connect to the car’s power. Digital memory of some sort, of course. Wonder what percentage of traffic accidents would benefit from such video evidence?
Legeros - 02/22/12 - 21:20

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