Newest Police Weapon: A Shoulder Camera
by: Capella Tucker, April 15, 2008 5:04:00 pm
Police cars have been equipped with cameras. Now the idea is to equip the police officer with a camera. The latest technology puts a video camera in the small black shoulder mic that every officer already carries.
One push of a button and Corporal Jarrell Caldwell can record what happens at the scene of a call. He says it's come in handy on disturbance calls where emotion and alcohol tend to mix.
"The individuals tend to get a little more aggressive under those conditions and impaired or not once they realize they are being recorded the attitudes change."
Caldwell says in every case people changed their behavior, for the better, when they were told they were being recorded. People are more careful about what they say and what they do. Caldwell says the video helps maintain a record of what happened.
"And the integrity of that entire situation, that scene, the investigation, the court proceedings and so fourth."
Precinct Six officers are going to test the cameras for a couple of months.
Constable Victor Trevino wants to know the best ways to use the cameras. Some questions are when should an officer start recording. When should citizens be notified they are being recorded or should they even be told.
"Some people would say what about big brother issues. We're doing a public service job, it helps everybody. It's not about big brother, we're doing a police service for the community, to make our community safer, this is an important tool."
Trevino says it's about having an accurate account of what happens at the scene for everybody's safety.
"When you have on the scene video that can later on be very critical to a case, and now I was thinking of several cases, especially in cases of domestic violence where they change their story from one minute to the next. So, if all this stuff can be crucial in terms of the integrity of law enforcement and helping out community as a whole."
The cameras can record between three and six hours. The video can be downloaded in a patrol car's computer in a couple of minutes. Each camera costs $700.
Capella Tucker, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.