Modesto Police have a new way to keep an eye on crime and fellow officers. They’re small, light-weight, durable video cameras that attach to an officer’s lapel, helmet, or glasses and records the officer’s point of view.
The cameras are the latest invention of Taser International. While there are other body cameras on the market, Taser representative Steve Tuttle said the design is what makes it better.
“When you raise your arm up you tend to block the body cameras,” he explained, “[With our cameras] we’re not missing any of the action. We’re watching [a call] from beginning to an end.”
Thanks to a grant the department has bought about 150 of the cameras, and just about every officer is going to wear one.
“It’s an important tool,” said Modesto Police spokesperson Rick Armendariz. “Just as important as a firearm, as a bulletproof vest, as a police radio.”
Once the cameras get dispensed, whenever an officer goes to a call, the cameras will start recording.
The cameras are easy to use and very durable. “It’s not going to fall off,” Sgt. Garrett Crawford assured, “We’ve tested it in the field.”
Crawford also said the department tested other cameras, but liked Taser’s best because of its light-weight and small design.
“Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain; we don’t want our officers to go through unnecessary pain,” explained Crawford.
Another benefit to the cameras is that the view is pretty wide. Also, the video can be recorded and watched later or seen and streamed real time.
“These videos the officers are capturing will be evidence, and treated as such,” said Armendariz. “[The video will] aid in criminal investigations, administrative investigations, officer involved shootings, all the way up to citizen complaints.”
Even though it’s a little 1984 the officers are glad for it.
“It’s just that independent witness,” said Crawford. “You have the officer’s statement, suspect statement, now you have the cameral; unbiased third eye.”
Tuttle added “Big Brother watching” has another benefit. “People’s behavior tends to be better, on both sides of the badge.”
The cameras will start being used in Mid-July. Aside from Modesto the only other police department in Northern California to use these cameras is B.A.R.T. Police.