As Tribune crime reporter Mike Fletcher reported Oct. 3, 61 of the 103 sworn Kokomo police officers will soon have body-worn cameras. This technology offers advantages, and concerns:
Police accountability: There's a potential for immediate violence against citizens without these body cameras. If cops know videos will be reviewed after civil rights complaints, they have an incentive not to act out. The courts can control privacy violations, but they can't cure physical injuries or bring back the dead. Even Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, published a favorable opinion Oct. 3, 2013.
Public accountability: KPD Maj. Brian Seldon told Fletcher they could help reduce use of force complaints. “If people know they’re being recorded, they may act differently,” he said.
Cost: For cameras, but also monitoring. Fletcher reported Taser Axon Flex DVR cameras cost about $500 each. Would we be better off investing in more officers on the street?
User error? By accident or on purpose. Last month, the Albuquerque Journal reported police “forgot” to turn on their body cameras before shooting a suspect. Officers turned them on after.
Loss of privacy? Forbes' Kashmir Hill reported Exigent Systems' Thomas Kinsey and Dustin Hoffman hacked Redlands, California's surveillance cameras. “Tapping into the network was easy, requiring no specialized hardware, allowing anyone to have a police-eye’s view of the town,” reported Hill. See also: any TV show using police dash cams as fodder.
Sensitive issues? "Are you really going to want to talk about a problem with a marriage or with a child or a sexual assault if I have a camera pointed at you?" Grand Junction, Colorado Police Chief John Camper told Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce Sept. 27.
Facial recognition? Dubai is already there. “Dubai police plan to issue detectives with Google Glass hands-free eyewear to help them fight crime using facial recognition technology,” reported Reuters Oct. 2.
Nitpicking? "Instead of the cameras being there to protect the officers, they get disciplined for petty stuff constantly," Missouri state Rep. Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, told Pierce.
Who else? Miami Beach, Florida is outfitting meter maids and beyond. "If city management has its way, code enforcement officers, city fire inspectors, building inspectors and uniformed police officers will all be asked to wear the cameras,” reported Jessica Glenza of The Guardian Aug. 21.