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Cops get a third digital eye

AXON camera

The giszmos and gadgets from the blockbuster hit Robocop are no longer just a Hollywood fantasy. That’s because Taser International, of Scottsdale, AZ, is currently beta testing a camera it hopes will forever change the way law enforcement officers get their job done.

The AXON camera resembles a Bluetooth earpiece for a cell phone and is mounted on a lightweight headset that officers can wear while on duty. The tiny camera, once turned on by pressing a small record button on a panel that hangs from the user’s chest, records everything the officer sees.

“It’s not the video that is revolutionary, but how you use it,” says Steve Tuttle, vice president of communications, in an exclusive conversation with GSN: Government Security News. “I believe this could have as big an impact as anything in revolutionizing law enforcement. If this program is successful, we will be able to impact law enforcement in a really big way.”

The camera is currently being worn by officers in San Jose and Sacramento, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Fort Smith, AK; and Aberdeen, SD.

“The police are instrumental to the testing,” says Tuttle. “They are helping us work out all the bugs.”

The camera has already helped to resolve a case in which one suspect was killed by a police officer and the other suspect in the case made a false claim against the responding officer regarding how the situation unfolded.

“When the transcript matches the video, word-for-word, we are able to clear up issues faster and get officers back on the street quicker,” Tuttle noted. “In this case, the video totally exonerated the officers. The attorney general on the case called the camera, a ‘quantum leap in law enforcement.’ We are very proud about how it all worked out.”

Tuttle admits there was some reluctance on behalf of law enforcement officers to try the product at first.

“Cops are the world’s most skeptical buyers,” Tuttle told GSN. “They are not interested in gimmicks. There was some resistance, but once the accountability and safety side of it was realized, the testing program immediately started to expand.

“It all about the power of the evidence, and this camera certainly meets harsh evidentiary standards,” Tuttle adds. “It’s not about Big Brother. The camera is the cop’s friend in court. But it is still a powerful tool and at times a double-edged sword. It can work against the officer, but 96 percent of the time, police video exonerates them.”

 

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