Sadly, stories about police discrimination and the Tasering of 10-year old girls are frighteningly commonplace these days. Officers in San Jose, California have a particularly bad reputation, which is one reason why they are being outfitted with head-mounted cameras.
The kit includes a camera, a control piece and a computer that hangs from the belt. Every time an officer interacts with a civilian, they are required to activate the AXON camera. Afterward, the officer can switch the camera to a "buffer" mode that records limited video, or turn it off completely. At the end of a shift, the video will be downloaded to a central server.
A leading critic of the department welcomed the cameras as a tool to provide useful evidence, but dismissed their significance as a solution to rocky police-community relations.
"The AXON project is unfortunately a positive thing right now because the level of distrust is so high," said Raj Jayadev, director of the community organisation Silicon Valley De-Bug. "But it doesn't address the more fundamental problem: What stereotypes police may carry when they see people of colour on the street and make assumptions about character.
Since an officer can simply turn off the device at anytime, I don't think AXON will put an end to police abuse. However, keeping a record of these interactions can do nothing but help the evidence gathering process. Trials financed by Taser are currently underway, but reports estimate that a full-fledged deployment in the San Jose area would cost upwards of $US4 million in taxpayer money. [Mercury News via Crunchgear]