New Accountability Add-On Triggers Cameras When Police Officers Unholster Their Guns
from the shooting-and-shooting dept
Taser, the company, gets a lot of cop love because of its titular product, which is deployed (too) frequently to subdue arrestees. It probably doesn’t get as much love for its body cameras, especially since it’s already wired one line to sync footage with Taser deployment.
Its cameras are going to get even less love now. Taser’s latest product looks to ensure no shooting goes unrecorded.
To ensure accountability during police encounters, Axon, Taser’s police body camera division, has announced a small sensor for gun holsters that can detect when a gun is drawn and automatically activate all nearby cameras. The sensor, Signal Sidearm, is part of a suite of products aimed at reducing the possibility that officers will fail to or forget to switch on their cameras during encounters with the public.
This isn’t a welcome development for cops who’d rather have every shooting/killing go unrecorded. And it’s probably not going to be picked up by many departments as it’s an aftermarket add-on that serves the singular purpose of accountability.
But if law enforcement agencies are serious about building trust, they should make the purchase. Too many police shootings result in “FILE NOT FOUND” errors when the public (or their representatives) ask for footage of the incident. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens with enough frequency that missing footage is conspicuous in its absence. Bullets start flying, and all of a sudden, cameras stop working.
What it won’t do is prevent cops from “fixing it in post.” As long as officers have access to uploaded/stored footage, there’s always a chance the recording will be deleted, altered, or made useless. True accountability can’t be achieved with a holster add-on. It has to start at the bottom and be enforced by the top.
That being said, triggered recordings take away the “discretion” aspect, freeing up cops to concentrate on the matter at hand, rather than post-incident possibilities. It also eliminates the “didn’t have time to activate” excuse, which has proven ultra-handy over the years.
Say what you will about Taser’s taser, but its camera division (Axon) continues to make strides towards better law enforcement accountability. In addition to the gun-out, camera-on clip, Axon has also made body/dash cameras that begin recording when squad car doors are opened and/or the cruiser’s lights are turned on.
Maybe cops who prefer opacity will still hold a place in their heart for Taser, even after being “subjected” to greater accountability. After all, the company gave law enforcement the gift of “excited delirium,” a supposed medical condition that only develops in the presence of law enforcement. It’s bite mark analysis-level junk science that serves a single purpose: to make an arrestee’s death their own fault, rather than place the blame on the multiple officers tasing/beating/crushing the suspect while hollering exonerating phrases (STOP RESISTING).