Body camera technology, often cited as a tool for determining what actually happened in police shootings, is now being used or procured by slightly more than half of large municipal police departments in the U.S., according to one Seattle company that makes the systems.
Body camera technology, often cited as a tool for ascertaining what actually happened in police shootings, is now being used or procured by slightly more than half of large municipal police departments in the U.S., according to one Seattle company that makes the systems.
Axon, a division of Taser that is based in Seattle, said its data shows 36 of 69 major U.S. cities now use, or have decided to use, body camera technology.
The Seattle Police Department has said it plans to implement body camera technology by the end of the year. A spokesman said Thursday that the department has not yet put out a bid to vendors, but is on schedule to meet its timeline.
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But the fatal shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge this week show the technology is not infallible.
Officers involved in the confrontation with Sterling were wearing body cameras that were apparently dislodged or knocked off center during the incident.
Reuters reported that the police department in Baton Rouge is in the process of switching to use body cameras made by Taser’s Axon unit, from those made by L-3 Communications Holdings. Taser confirmed Thursday that its cameras were not worn by the officers involved in the shooting.
Axon makes two different types of cameras, both of which are tested extensively by police departments before they purchase cameras, a Taser spokeswoman said in an email Thursday.
“While any body-worn camera has the potential to come off in a really rough scuffle, we’ve had more than 3,500 law enforcement agencies deploy our Axon cameras since 2009, and it’s not a significant issue for our cameras,” Sydney Siegmeth said.
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The Axon Flex cameras are about the size of a lipstick tube and can clip on to glasses, collars, hats or other clothes and stay in place in speeds up to 100 miles per hour. The Axon Body 2 is a camera that attaches to an officer’s chest near a badge.
Body cameras have been shown to reduce the use of force, Siegmeth said, referencing a 2014 study done by Arizona State University. The research studied Mesa Police Department officers wearing Axon Flex cameras and found that there was a 75 percent decrease in “use of force complaints” during the study.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana told Reuters it expects the Justice Department will investigate why the body cameras didn’t work during Tuesday’s shooting.
Axon, which says it has deals with 30 of the 36 major police departments using body cameras, said its revenues increased more than 50 percent year over year to $9.7 million in the first quarter of 2016.