Body Worn Video Enthusiasm on Global Rise
Ever since protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of Michael brown by police, the rush to buy body worn video cameras as significantly increased. American magazine Police Mag recently announced OfficerStore.com’s offering of Reveal RS1 Mini body worn camera due to the increase in police scrutiny, and on-the-job video evidence provides a clear account of incidents and greater transparency for the public.
Additionally USA Today reported the hike in interest for body cameras in an on-line video report in which one example of video from an officer shows how he shot a suspect who threatened a victim with a knife – a case which may have drawn parallels with the Michael Brown event if body worn video was not used in this case, which was proven to be justified.
Also, Vancouver Police Department have recently issued body worn video cameras to 8 officers after a court order to evict homeless persons from Oppenheimer Park, with a view of doing so efficiently and safely. However the cameras are not being deployed to regular patrol officers and the cameras used in this case are simple retail substitutes for the state of the art technology that Reveal provides. Chief Constable Jim Chu said:
“There are several studies we are launching right now and the cost of video storage is a major hurdle we have to deal with before the VPD can look more seriously at regular officers wearing cameras.”
The announcement shows how body worn video can be applied to specific situations, for example The Independent a short time ago released an article by Chair of Digital Rights Ireland, Dr.TJ McIntyre, about how the Gardaí are using body cameras whilst on duty at the water meter protests taking place in Dublin for evidence gathering. A key issue in this case is the maintaining of the relationship between the police and demonstrators, with the use of cameras focused on protecting the public and providing an account or evidence of an incident if required.
In New Jersey a bill put forward will require all patrol officers to have a body worn camera, with State Senator Donald Norcross, responsible for drafting the bill, stating:
"We laid the groundwork with the [vehicle] dashboard [camera] bill, and I wouldn't be surprised to see other states following suit. Now it's time to get cameras on all our patrol officers."
In Scotland body worn cameras have become a focus for the police, to which a spokesman said:
"We are considering options for the use of body-worn videos, building on the experience we have in using them across the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and Moray Divisions."
Chief Superintendent Adrian Watson, Aberdeen City Commander, said: "The cameras have helped to bring about earlier guilty pleas - which means officers are able to spend less time in court and more time out and about in communities."
Plus, a recent study conducted by the College of Policing in England - where data protection legislation is the same as in Scotland - was published on Wednesday, showing body cameras helped secure convictions in tough and complicated cases, such as domestic abuse. Significantly, the four month trial found a higher proportion of people being charged with an offence when officers wore cameras.