Law enforcement officers across the country utilize camera technology, whether it be body cams or dash cams, to keep themselves and those they interact with safe; themselves from false accusations and those they interact with from acts of police brutality. Now, in Arizona, one police department is implementing a new camera technology for its officers — and this time, the camera will go on the officer’s firearm.

According to KPNX, an NBC-affiliate, the small Williams Police Department in northern Arizona, a department of just 15 officers, is one of the first in the nation to put cameras on firearms.

With the cameras being placed just underneath the barrel of the officer’s handgun, it won’t impede their ability to fire if necessary. The camera will begin recording once the officer draws their weapon.

The new camera will provide members of law enforcement with a better angle and view of what happens when an officer draws his firearm and points it at a suspect.

“With vest- or even shoulder-worn body cameras, the act of drawing a weapon can obstruct the view of what’s in front of the officer,” KPNX notes.

KPNX was able to reach Williams Police Lt. Darrell Hixson for comment, who said, “I believe in this.” Adding, “Police are taught to take cover and concealment. If they do that maybe the camera’s pointing at a wall now.”

During police-involved shootings, body camera footage provides critical evidence for police departments, as well as for potential prosecutors, that will allow them to determine if an officer should face charges for an unjust shooting. And while the footage can help hold those who wear the uniform accountable, it also protects them from public scrutiny and criticism when they do their jobs correctly or when people falsely accuse them of wrongdoing.

Often when a police-involved shooting occurs, the first question that arises is, “Where’s the body camera footage?” However, even with body camera footage, it’s not always clear to the viewer what happened or what led up to the moment the officer pulls the trigger.

An officer may state that a suspect was reaching for an unknown object tucked into their waistband, making them fear for their safety and the safety of those nearby, forcing them to shoot and kill the suspect. However, the officer’s extended arms as they point their weapon may obstruct the camera on their chest, ruining potential video evidence that would support their claim. The camera on the firearm will provide a clearer view of the situation. 

A camera on an officer’s firearm would also show whether or not an officer acted appropriately in firing their weapon, and would hold them accountable if the suspect was doing everything they could to comply with an officer’s directions.

What do you think of the Willaims Police Departments’ decision? Should departments across the country adopt this new technology?

See the video of KPNX’s original reporting here.

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