Before long, investigations into police actions will no longer rely on the grainy photos supplied by bystanders’ cell phone cameras.
In San Jose, Calif., more than 1,300 police officers have been trained to use the new helmet cam – which observers say will serve a double purpose: prevent cops from acting badly or serving as bona fide proof that an officer followed procedures to the T.
"It's like the helmet cam you've seen on X Games," San Jose Police officer William Pender, told The Associated Press.
In coming months, other police departments will be asked to experiment with the AXON head cameras, the latest technology to come from TASER International, Inc., makers of the stun guns popular with law enforcement, according to AP.
"I think it will also make the officers very aware that their behavior is being documented, which could cut down on possible police excesses," said Sam Walker, professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
The helmet cam can be connected to an on-and-off button on the officer's chest, and from there to a video screen on a holster, AP reports. In San Jose, officers are required to switch on the cameras for even routine investigations, such as vehicle stops.
At the end of an officer's shift, the device is placed in a docking station, where it recharges and its content is downloaded and stored on a secure server offsite. A three-year contract for the system for one officer that includes software and video storage costs $5,700, said Tom Smith, chairman and founder of TASER.
"People have been using (this technology) against us for years, unfortunately only for the bad stuff," Pender said. "So it'd be nice to show our view and our side of what's going on."