San Jose police test head-mounted cameras for officers

Posted: January 17, 2010 in Technology
Tags: , , , , , ,

From the article:

San Jose police, under fire for interactions with the public that have turned violent, on Friday launched a pilot project equipping officers with head-mounted cameras to record contacts with civilians.

Officers will activate the cameras, about the size of a Bluetooth device and attached by a headband above the ear, every time they respond or make contact with a person. At the end of the officer’s shift, the recording will be downloaded to a central server.

Chief Rob Davis said the devices, to be tested by 18 patrol officers, are a technological advance comparable to the advent of police cars, two-way radios and the 911 emergency system.

San Jose is the first major U.S. city to try out the devices, known as AXON.

Although officers are already bearing vests, weapons and radios, most of them welcome adding a camera to record their actions, Davis said. In addition, he said, “We’re making it so it has cachet.”

A leading critic of the department welcomed the cameras as a tool to provide useful evidence, but dismissed their significance as a solution to rocky police-community relations.

“The AXON project is unfortunately a positive thing right now because the level of distrust is so high,” said Raj Jayadev, director of the community organization Silicon Valley De-Bug. “But it doesn’t address the more fundamental problem: What stereotypes police may carry when they see people of color on the street and make assumptions about character.”

The cost of the trial is being shouldered by maker Taser International of Scottsdale, Ariz. But if the trial leads to full-fledged use, equipping the entire 1,400-officer department will be expensive. At $1,700 per kit and a $99 per officer monthly fee, the system could cost $2,888 per officer in the first year, or $4 million.

Davis said he expected the price would decrease, and he hoped that the department would be able to find grants to defray the cost.

The kit includes a camera, a control piece and a computer that can hang from the belt. In the pilot project, officers have been directed to switch on the camera as they are about to contact a civilian. The cameras, equipped with an audio recorder, align with the officer’s vision, and can be later switched to standby mode.

Afterward, the officer can switch the camera to a “buffer” mode, where it still records limited segments of video, and a nonrecord mode. The officer may review the tape at any time, but it may not be erased. At the end of the shift, the device’s memory is downloaded onto a central server.

Well this is a step in the right direction but the “off button” is really crappy, I would have likened it to be on at all times, it will be less hassle for the officer how doesn’t have to turn it on and off every time and you can clearly see what the officer is doing or if he/she is misbehaving.

But I guess this is better then nothing for the moment.

Original site.

WOG out

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