Feeds

Washington cops may be compelled to use gun-cams

GunTube shoot uploads to 'improve community relations'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Cops in Washington DC could soon be compelled to fit their pistols with cameras that would record gunsight video in every situation in which the weapons were drawn, according to reports.

According to US network NBC, District of Columbia council member Harry "Tommy" Thomas has introduced a draft local bill which would compel city plods to fit their shooters with under-barrel cam modules. The bill is under consideration by the DC judicial committee.

Gun camera technology is relatively simple to make, and is already available off the shelf. Most modern semi-automatic pistols have mounting rails beneath the frame allowing accessories such as tactical lights or laser sights to be attached, and cameras can easily be fitted to these. Typically the camera is set to start recording both sound and video as soon as the weapon is drawn from its holster - a rare event for most American police officers, other than on the firing range.

Such cameras are on trial with US cops, but aren't yet in routine use. The idea is that they could safeguard police from malicious accusations of wrongful shooting - and also, of course, make it much easier to penalise police in the case of mistakes or trigger-happiness.

Pistol-cams are being tried out at the moment by cops in Orange County, New York, following a controversial shooting by plods in the city of Newburgh. In the case of Antonio Bryant, shot dead by police in 2006, the street version of the story differs massively from the one told by the cops.

Local politicians - and some senior police officers - believe that gun cameras could enhance community relations in future cases by providing solid proof that cops have acted reasonably. Presumably this would involve making shooting footage public in some way - perhaps via YouTube, the favoured channel for the plods' enemies to distribute their propaganda. This would be technically simple, current gun-cam models being fitted with mini-USB connections.

Others reckon that the knowledge of being recorded will ensure that officers stick more strictly to their rules of engagement.

Newburgh top cop Eric Paolilli said: "We believe it is a cutting edge technology that will enhance police officer training and it will enable us to better our cooperation and interaction with the City of Newburgh community." However, he also suggested that shoulder or head-mouted cams of the type sometimes used by British cops, parking-enforcement people and even lollipop crossing guards would also be good. This would prevent harassed plods from drawing their guns simply to get a situation on video.

Police officers' union representatives in Newburgh, on the other hand, have predicted stiff resistance from their membership to the idea of gun-cams. Though presumably only the guilty cops would have anything to fear.

In Orange County, anyway, there is no roadmap toward the kit being routinely deployed. But in Washington DC, if Thomas gets his way, things could move faster. The US capital has serious community-vs-police issues and a high rate of gun violence.

A camera option is also available for the Taser electric stungun, which tends to get a lot more attention when used than ordinary firearms - certainly in countries where police are routinely armed, anyway. This has meant that the Taser-cam has actually been available for longer than the pistol-cam. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.