Feeds

Washington cops may be compelled to use gun-cams

GunTube shoot uploads to 'improve community relations'

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.