One real problem in many departments is knowing just what happens when an officer draws his weapon. While YouTube is full of dash camera footage of police encounters, much more take place away from the dash cam’s view. That creates a problem for investigators who are looking to find out just what happened.
Many departments are taking advantage of newer technology as a way to protect not just the public, but the officers.
For one police department in northern Arizona, that means gun cameras.
Williams Police Department is currently participating in the Viridian Weapon Technologies Law Enforcement pilot program.
The program utilizes a camera mounted on a gun and aims to provide more evidence in the event of an officer involved shooting.
“There’s nothing more transparent than a camera on a gun,” said Lt. Darrell Hixson of the Williams Police Department.
The department has been using the guns for the last few weeks but it is not yet clear whether they will permanently adopt the program.
The camera mount has a secured storage system that can only be off-loaded through a USB cable, ensuring that only the proper officials will be able to access the video.
It also has a flashlight and starts recording immediately when removed from the holster.
The department has been deploying them for a few weeks in what sounds like a trial basis. There’s no word as to whether the department will formally adopt the cameras at this time.
It’s entirely likely that many officers are less than thrilled about more cameras recording their interactions with the public, and I understand that. As it is, their entire job involves being under a microscope. Any mistake has the potential to blow up into front page news, and I think they all know it. Why would they want a camera that puts them under that microscope even more?
But the flip side to that is what would have happened in Ferguson, MO if the local department had been able to drop video showing Michael Brown expressly not putting up his hands and charging the officer?
Plus, unlike body cams, these are automatically turned on when the weapon is drawn. Officers don’t turn it on or off, which means fewer policy issues coming up regarding the cameras.
I’m all for anything that will help protect police officers, even if it’s just to protect them from idiotic lawsuits and bureaucrats looking to make a statement to a public calling for blood with no good reason remotely in sight. If these cameras will help with that, awesome. Otherwise, they’re a waste of money.
The Williams Police Department will have to make a determination later as to whether this is a useful tool for them, but I do have to say that I applaud them for trying new technology. Far too many people are fine with new technology…so long as someone else gets to be the guinea pig. They want stuff they know will work, and for obvious reasons. It’s not easy to try new things, so they deserve some appreciation for that alone.
But since they’re using taxpayer money for it, let’s hope for the locals there that it does.