Every day it seems there is another publicized instance of police brutality. In the myriad of horror stories detailing senseless beatings, murder and rape, the line between protector and oppressor is often crossed. Fraudulent reports of such cases occur frequently as well, where civilians seek compensation for abuse they never received. Police agencies in America spend two and a half billion dollars annually in legal battles with the public and without direct evidence these disputes often come down to circumstantial evidence and witness reports.
Since the late seventies dashboard cameras have become commonplace in law enforcement and have proven instrumental for both revealing abuse and protecting lawful officers from undue accusations. However, police work is not confined to vehicles, and recently body mounted cameras have been gaining ground with police agencies. These devices, recording from the officer’s perspective serve to ensure the safety of the public from abuse and officers from lies.
TASER International, famous for its namesake electroshock weapons, has made headway into the field recently, and a study by Cambridge University with the Rialto Police department found that employing TASER’s cameras caused an 87% decrease in complaints and that use of force was cut by 59%.
When TASER’s “Axon” family of cameras are docked at the end of a shift the recorded videos are instantly encrypted and uploaded to a secure internet locker, giving officers no chance to manipulate the data. Later videos can be accessed from anywhere, with each viewing noted by the website in an “audit trail.” The videos travel from the officer to the DA to court without a single physical incarnation.
This technology has been adopted by over 800 police agencies, and while some at first may be wary of the cameras and fearful of a loss in privacy, such fears are unfounded. ATM are outfitted with cameras and virtually every store one walks into records their likeness.
On officer cameras provide a valuable service to everyone in ensuring that the truth is a present party in court. We live in a time of technological upheaval, internet infrastructure is advancing at an astounding rate and with this increase in computing power comes fantastic opportunities for the advancement of society. It is my opinion that the implementation of these cloud enabled cameras in police work benefits everyone, and that they should in fact be legally required hardware for all agencies.
In 2011 the justice department opened numerous investigations with police departments all over the country, finding many agencies to be in violation of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth amendments, including the Seattle police department. There is a disturbing pattern of unnecessary force and discriminatory practices throughout America’s law enforcement agencies. Requiring them to utilize on officer cameras and (especially TASER’s web enabled devices) would help ensure the safety of civilians and officers alike.