In light of the steady stream of reports of police violence, especially involving protestors, Taser’s new mini-video cameras for police may be just what’s needed to show both sides of the story.
Taser (the company best known for the controversial stun guns) has released a half-ounce camera that clips on to a collar or sunglasses of an officer and can record up to two hours of video. The information is stored in a cloud-computing system that uses Taser’s online evidence management system, which resides on Amazon’s cloud storage service. The videos can be tagged and labeled for record-keeping, and edited to protect the identities of victims or undercover officers captured on the video. To protect from misuse by the officers, the video cannot be deleted while in the camera, though an officer can choose when to turn the camera on and off.
Taser already has around 55,000 mini-cameras mounted on Taser guns. But the camera is only triggered when the gun is drawn, which means that the video only captures the events leading up to that point and provides no context that might justify the weapon’s use.
Citizens are becoming more aware of the power of documenting any encounter with the police, and so it seems natural that officers arm themselves in the same way.
Police reportedly spend over $2 billion a year paying off complaints about brutality, so these video cameras are an attractive option to clear officers of false obligations.
Taser will charge clients on a sliding scale based partly on the amount of data stored. The system could cost a small department a few thousand dollars a year or a few hundred thousand dollars for a large force. The new cameras contain a battery with a 14-hour life, and sell for $1,000 each.