The body-worn technology has been very useful for the government in keeping peaceful terms between the law agencies and the civilians. It has been a way to make the playing field open, making it very easy for both sides to request court sanctions when both sides seek redress. It could happen that a police officer used excessive and unnecessary force while dealing with a citizen, they might choose to press charges and then without evidence, it becomes very difficult for them to get justice for the maltreatment. With the body cams introduced by the government and the policies they passed with using it, the voice of the common man without power will be heard and justice will be gotten. Having a camera around always creates this “self-awareness” in people generally, it makes their chances of misbehaving or acting in a not so acceptable way less possible. By having the law enforcement agencies wear the camera as they carry out their duties, it has made it possible to monitor and know what an officer is doing and in case of an investigation, and there are footages to play in order to understand the real situation of what actually happened. So far the member of the agencies, stick to the policies and do not violate them-privacy, then there isn’t going to be any problem and also no cause for alarm.
In the wake of the happening in the US, where the unarmed black teenager was shot by police. Other cases had sprung up and this has really got the nation on a debate concerning the use of deadly force by police officers. This was amongst the issue that brought about the resolution of the dispute, improvement of the officers behavior and safety and also stop the allegation on the count of racial profiling. The concept of using cameras to record events isn’t entirely new as a matter of fact in the past decade, cameras were installed in police cars just to have an eye on the things they do. However, a program that involves the police wearing cameras consciously is a new addition, some years ago just a few nations in the world adopted it in some of their states and provinces. But in recent time in the US 6000 out of about 18000 police officers now use it, the figures keep growing steadily and new policies keeps getting rolled out while old ones keeping getting reformed, all in a bid to serve the public better while making the job easier for the police.
The department for Homeland security (DHS) created the system assessment and validation for the first responder program to ensure by a general standard, they access this commercial equipment and make sure they are optimum. Their recommendation for the technology of use is:
- The video must have a frame rate of at least 25 frames per second(fps)
- The battery of camera in use must run for at least 3 hours without dying
- The image resolution must be a minimum of 480p i.e. 640 X 480
- The camera system must have a minimum of one year warranty from whatever company its being purchased from
- The camera’s storage must be able to capture a minimum of 3 hours footage when set at its minimum setting
- The camera should have a particular low light setting that allows easy recording even where there is no light.
Some other recommendations were provided regarding some more specific issues; it is believed that standard cameras will have some quality issues for example: weird pictures and generally low quality at night. These when compared to the professional cameras all seem to be lacking in any sense since they have been beaten down to what they so as to conserve are cost. There could also be problems with stability especially when an officer is on a chase, these have made the head camera more recommended for reasons such as these since the head acts like a gyroscope that corrects some motion which causes this shakiness. Pushing the growth of the body-worn cameras have brought benefits to society as a whole such as:
- Transparency in the relationship between the force and citizens
- More increased professionalism as officers perform their duty in more professional ways
- More peaceful civil interactions, these involve amicable relationship without violence
- Saving more money that would have been spent on internal affairs investigations on wrongdoings by an officer while also settling lawsuits involving the use of unnecessary loss
As the interest in the body cam technology has seemingly grown, so also has many questions about the use of the technology increased and also interrogations on the policies guiding it. for a program such as this, it is known that project management skills are very important, some challenges are even faced by the ones who management. They include a large amount of storage required to keep storing these records and the need to store them meticulously. This is where cloud storage comes in, but this technology is just being to be explored by them. Body-worn cameras influence other police departments such as computer-aided dispatch and evidence management systems. The most challenge it tends to offer is the data storage cost which has been ranged by PERF to about 2 million dollars per year.
In the UK in 2006 when the body-worn camera was introduced, there was a major change in many things and the use of unnecessary force while apprehending dropped by 60%, the technology also enhanced the collection of hard to deny evidence that resulted in fewer cases requiring a trial. The cops employed the use of cameras that were water-resistant, recorded video in full color and had a battery life of about 12 hours. The result after a year from the use was really outstanding; transparency and professionalism increased drastically, complaints against officers even fell by 90%. These early positive reviews, gave way to the adoption and then the birth of standards and also the creation of privacy policies as it soon became a problem when complaints were raised about privacy infringement. Overall the technology chosen to be worn was not to be heavy, it should weight very less as it would become a problem if the weight becomes noticeable. The cameras were worn on diverse parts of the body including; head, shoulder and chest. The police had to give different gears a test before finally figuring which fits with their caps and sunglasses. When wearing a body camera on the head, it records whatever the officer is looking at. It’s also very good for chasing since the head acts as a gyroscope minimizing the shakiness of the camera, while as for wearing on the shoulder or chest the advantage is that it records whatever is before the officer even if he isn’t looking at it. The agencies for standardizing wanted the camera to be able to label the event by date and time with even location if possible, without these reference labelling the video becomes quite useless for investigations.
When the California police department started to issue out body cameras, they made the officers realize that 30 mins of recording are 800mb of storage space. By then calculating it; if they had 200 officers and they needed to store from them, in a year they’d need about 33Tb of storage. This is quite a lot and the body-worn cameras can be counted upon to produce a lot of video data and also metadata to track and manage the video clips for keepsakes and custody chain purpose also. in cases linking with the body cameras, policy is inextricably linked to the question of where to store the huge data being accumulated. Policies on retention can actually play havoc on the portion of the budget allocated to the body-worn cameras. In some areas, it is expected that no evidentiary data are to be deleted between 60-90days. Some have asked for it to be increased while some others have asked it be decreased. Many cities that wanted to implement the body-worn cameras have found the data storage problem they’ve encountered, as a force that has rebuffed them and prevented them from going on ahead with the program even though they’d have loved to implement it. The national justice system has said that videos become more important to a police department and those storage adjustments will definitely need to be made.
The CLOUD technology
The cloud technology has been a major solution to the body-worn camera storage problem but hasn’t been implemented since it has not met the FBI’s criminal justice information services (CJIS) requirement. In recent times the situation is changing now that some tech giants are now offering the cloud storage that actually meets the FBI’s requirement that wasn’t met previously which prevented its full implementation. Some benefits of cloud technology are: scalability, access to innovation and cost-effectiveness. The cloud completely puts aside the storage problems earlier perceived making it the cost-cutting solution to make the body-worn camera technology better implemented.