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February 25, 2010

Putting cameras on police officers

Recently, Baltimore City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway proposed putting cameras on the dashboards of police cruisers to document interactions with the public, a call that came in response to reports of a septuagenarian's arm being broken during a stop for an alleged hit and run. The police department and officers' union said fixed cameras wouldn't capture many of the interactions that occur out of view.  

In San Diego, the police department is experimenting with cameras, but instead of car dashboards, they're mounted on the officers themselves. San Diego has joined a handful of other agencies to begin testing head-mounted video cameras that record officers' interactions with the public, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Nine officers will wear the RoboCop-like gear while on routine patrol over the next two months.

"It gives real-time information on exactly what occurred at the scene. Anything that helps put the case into perspective," San Diego Assistant Police Chief Bob Kanaski said yesterday. "No more 'he said, she said.'  Now it's in color." Officers have "noticed people act different toward them now that they know they're on camera," one officer said. The AXON camera, about the size of a large Bluetooth device, hooks over the officer s ear. The record button is on a small control panel that hangs on the officer's chest. The third component is a handheld computer screen that shows the color video feed. The computer can store up to eight hours of material.

What do you think? Good accountability tool, or creepy Big Brother policing development?

[Photo from San Diego Union-Tribune site. Link also includes video of a recorded interaction]

Posted by Justin Fenton at 11:43 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Crime elsewhere


I'm sure there are times when it will work and times when it won't. I would tend to like the idea in public places where security cameras would not be unreasonable anyway. In some cases, cops need to gain the trust of someone out there and the camera over their ear could make that more difficult.

A sound recorder could be a non-obtrusive and inexpensive compromise. It won't pick up visuals, but a recording of what was said could be helpful in sorting through any "perp said, cop said" discrepancies.

Scientists and engineers are doing commendable jobs...
DVR security camera systems

There are times when a citizen might want to talk in confidence to a police officer to avoid putting their own safety at risk. But other than that I think it might help them do their jobs.

I'd be for it if it were at the officer's discretion.

i think it is a good idea . There are so many crooked police officers out there,maybe this will help keep them honest!

If you are in a not good position and have no money to move out from that, you would need to receive the home loans. Just because it would aid you unquestionably. I get collateral loan every year and feel good just because of this.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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