London Cops to carry Cameras--Not Guns

Most of you are familiar with the concept of “wearable cameras”—particularly as pertains to the so-called digital “POV” models used by action sports enthusiasts to document their exploits with still images and/or video while skiing, ballooning, cycling, surfing and other such activities. These cameras can be attached to helmets, body harnesses or even the sports equipment itself. There have also been a few not-so-successful attempts to market small wearable devices designed to capture low-res images as people go about their daily lives.

And now, the London Metropolitan Police Department has embarked upon a pilot program in which some 500 police officers will utilize body-worn video cameras while patrolling the streets of nine London boroughs. The intent is to not only use the cameras to document, manage and share evidence gathered while on the beat, but to monitor how police officers interact with suspects during investigations and arrests.

The Axion Body cameras, provided by Arizona-based Taser International, can log up to 12 hours of continuous video which will be automatically uploaded to a secure website for review by authorities. Police officers wearing the devices, which are powered by a pocket-sized battery pack, can neither alter nor delete the files.

Similar tests of this technology in the U.S. are underway or about to begin in a number of cities in California, Minnesota, Virginia, Florida, Washington State, and elsewhere. An encouraging study conducted by Cambridge University in 2012 indicated an almost 90% drop in use-of-force situations when this technology was employed. And that’s good news for everyone.