Gun? Check. Badge? Check. Mini Camera? Check. These days, many police departments are turning to body worn mini cams to capture full details of officers’ interactions with civilians. And in one California city, reported results have bordered on miraculous.
Instead of relying on the public to monitor officer accountability through cell phone videos (which have proven to be wildly effective in capturing police brutality in recent years), departments are keeping both themselves and the public accountable through the use of mini cameras. Mini cams, which can be small enough to attach to uniform lapels and even an officer’s sunglasses, capture hands-free video and, coupled with an officers radio, provide a full picture of officer-civilian confrontations.
A police department in Rialto, CA has instituted a program in which half of the uniformed officers in the department, selected at random from week to week, wear cameras on their uniforms and are instructed to activate them any time they leave their patrol car to interact with a civilian.
The first year of the program has already seen an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints the department has received, reports the New York Times. The officers also used force 60 percent less often, and when force was used, more than half the time it was carried out by an unmonitored officer.
The ACLU and other civil libertarians have expressed concern over privacy issues stemming from the recordings, but the Rialto Police Department has said that all of the gathered footage is only to be used internally, and will only be kept for a short amount of time.
The success of the Rialto program has led to a minor chain reaction, with police departments from coast to coast looking to adopt a mini camera system of their own.
Film buffs may recognize this scene from 2012’s End of Watch which features two officers wearing BrickHouse’s Mega Mini Pro camera. Watch a clip below: