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]