More Body Cameras Becoming Available To Law Enforcement

By Valerie Insinna
The shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked nationwide concerns about the accountability of law enforcement. Body cameras have been suggested by the White House as a way to increase transparency, and demand for the technology has surged.

One product that soon could be making its way to the United States is the B-Cam SRU, a body camera developed last year by United Kingdom-based B-Cam Ltd., said CEO James Bolton.

A trial was conducted with the Atlanta police last year, he said. “We are in talks with a third party company in the U.S. at the moment who are going to hopefully sell this for us.”

The B-Cam sits on the chest of the officer until it is ready for use. Recording begins with the push of a button. The device is waterproof and ruggedized to withstand drops of more than two meters, Bolton said.

It can record high-definition video, audio and still images with its five-megapixel camera. Its battery lasts about six hours and can easily be swapped out. It also has infrared sensors that allow the user to capture video in the dark at distances of up to five meters, he said.

In order to ensure that an officer could not tamper with the data, a 32-gigabyte flash drive is built into the B-Cam.

“The only way to get that out is to smash the camera open, which will then break it,” Bolton said. “A lot of other devices on the market have SD cards, which are removable, and that sort of evidence can be lost very easily.”

Similarly, once data is downloaded into the management software, it cannot be edited or erased by an officer. Only an authorized administrator can delete the footage, he said.

The video, audio and images are automatically geotagged using GPS. Users can see on a map where footage was taken and can jump to any location to see what was recorded there.

The B-Cam is already in use in police departments in Kent, Essex and North Hampton in the United Kingdom, as well as with private security companies there, Bolton said. The cost of the product depends on the volume ordered, but retails at about $900.

“It’s been proven to save time in court,” he said. “Offenders admit guilt more quickly because the evidence is right in front of them.”

In the wake of Ferguson, analysts and journalists have warned that body cameras on police are unlikely to be a silver bullet.

Despite the measures taken to ensure the B-Cam cannot be tampered with, there still exist possibilities for human error or interference. Law enforcement personnel could forget to start recording, or the lens could become concealed during a scuffle.

Topics: C4ISR

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