March 28, 2009
Bill Kaufmann, Calgary Sun
CALGARY -- Picture this: Calgary cops with head-mounted cameras chronicling action on the beat.
While city police have rejected a camera installed on their Taser pistols, they're considering a dual-lensed device worn like an ear bud and produced by the same company that supplies their stun guns.
The cameras - dubbed Axon - would ensure more accountability for both police and the public, said Insp. Chris Butler, the force's field training co-ordinator.
"It goes both ways," said Butler, adding police are also concerned about increasingly litigious crooks.
"The criminal element are using the tactic of launching a lot of frivolous and vexatious complaints to bog the system down and make officers second guess."
City police will field test Axon this fall, added Butler.
The $1,200 US devices would pack a colour-capable lens for daylight hours and a black and white infrared one for nighttime service.
A similar device was piloted in the U.K. last year and they're credited with dramatically reducing the numbers of complaints against police, said Butler.
Police forces there didn't adopt them because of technical glitches, but Butler said he's hopeful the advent of the Axon will change that.
"We're hopeful the technological problems will be resolved," he said.
Earlier, Calgary police had tested a Taser gun-mounted camera, he said, but turned down the equipment after finding it unwieldy and technically unsound.
"The only time the Taser cam is recording is when the Taser is armed - they'd have to point it at a person, so they'd be more of a videographer than a cop dealing properly with a situation," said Butler.
"What we really want to be capturing aren't just the two seconds of Taser use but the entire context of an incident."
The camera lens was also obscured by the officer's hands when the Taser was held with both of them, he said.
The use of Tasers and cameras have come to the fore with the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dzeikanski who was captured on video when felled by a stun gun at Vancouver airport in 2007.
But the Taser-produced, blue tooth-like Axon "is a very fascinating piece of technology," said Butler.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Saturday, March 28, 2009
March 28, 2009