Fort Worth Police Will Soon Require Some Officers to Wear Video Cameras on Their Uniforms

Categories: News

AxonFlex.jpg
Taser
Fort Worth PD just purchased nearly 200 of Taser's Axon Flex on-officer cameras.
We'll never be able to pin down exactly what went down on Havenwood Lane on the night of May 4, when Fort Worth police mistakenly gunned down 72-year-old Jerry Waller at his home. Police say he was outside the garage; his family maintains that he was just a couple of steps from the kitchen door. The cops say he raised his weapon; the family finds that hard to believe.

It's a similar problem that's encountered on a smaller scale every time a person is searched under New York City's controversial -- and now barred -- stop-and-frisk policy: There's no record of what happened beyond what lingers in the memory of the participants.

Now, both cities are turning to the same solution: tiny, uniform-mounted cameras to better document the interactions between residents and police. New York is adopting the technology only reluctantly: The cameras are required under the same court order that ruled stop-and-frisk unconstitutional. Fort Worth, meanwhile, is doing so voluntarily and touting the move as a way to improve accountability.

"Every chief of police has a particular use of force incident that strained the public's trust and damaged their professional reputation," Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said in a written statement to The Dallas Morning News. "This technology has the ability to document exactly what occurred, what was said, and has proven to clearly demonstrate the incident for the community."

The department has already purchased nearly 200 cameras, the use of which Halstead will require during the execution of all search warrants. His eventual goal is to buy another 500 cameras over two years, which will outfit up to three-quarters of patrol officers and half of all specialized units, according to the Morning News. The price tag so far is $764,000.

Fort Worth is a relatively early adopter of uniform cams, but they are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and they have a certain intuitive appeal. Civil liberties advocates tend to like them because they increase police accountability, while police departments -- some of them at least -- like the insurance they provide against claims of misconduct.

What little data there is seems to back up these inclinations. A study of police in Rialto, California, saw an 88 percent decline in the number of citizen complaints and a 60 percent drop in use-of-force incidents after officers were outfitted with cameras.

Matter of fact, it seems the only person who sees no redeeming virtue in the technology is NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He declared them a "nightmare."

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11 comments
izabo
izabo

National Institute of Justice: ~ Five Things Law Enforcement Executives Can Do To Make A Difference. http://nij.gov/five-things

DoD study on random polygraphs for personnel. http://t.co/Tr7uafTd

"the polygraph is the single most effective tool for finding information people were trying to hide." - DIA, NSA.

Spy chief toughens employee polygraph to stem leaks. http://t.co/aXsfeUd7

CBP could require current employees to undergo polygraphs. http://t.co/MpPsmq2p

Make policy that polygraphs for all new hires expire every 2-5yrs. http://shar.es/epfm2

California laws strengthened wall of silence among officers. http://shar.es/lITUZ

The honest, brave officers with integrity deserve better.

And so does the public.

Wherever you are in the World, in your own jurisdictions, in your own capacity, you can do something, anything, just one thing. And make a difference.

Break the code. Break the culture.

cmint
cmint

Where are the Dash Cams from the waller incident?  There should be some audio.

We will never know because they investigated themeselves. There needs to be an independent investigation. And the rookie cop citizen shooter needs to be fired.

The solution is for the public to have these cameras, not the cops.

roo_ster
roo_ster

I see this as a way to exonerate falsely accused cops and help nail the rotten cops. 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

Can't wait for the first incident of alleged wrongdoing when a camera is "destroyed" during an altercation that leaves a suspect dead. That is, unless they are uploading live video to a server, which is a possibility. All in favor of increased accountability.

ruddski
ruddski

If Nurse Bloomberg hates it, it's probably a good idea.

NewsDog
NewsDog

@cmint  The general public already has these cameras. They're called cell phones.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@CogitoErgoSum If you have more than one person wired, shouldn't be an issue. Typically the camera feeds to a hard drive in the back of their vehicle, that's the way the dashcams work, not sure about the newer models though. Could just be flash memory. 

cmint
cmint

@NewsDog @cmint Good Point and I have instructed my kids to dial me and set the phone down if they ever get pulled over. But, I'm thinking the citizen cam needs to be a little less confiscatable.

Seriously thinking about camming the family autos for the same reason the cops do it. Minimize our liability in case of an accident and have a record of any illegal acts against us.  Plus,like the cops, if the camera shows me effing up, I have the option to destroy the cam or erase the contents.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@DirtyP1 @CogitoErgoSum Like in Dallas, where for some reason the dashcams get turned off or dont work when police brutality is involved, but let them give you a field sobriety test, and the video looks crystal  1080p clear.

cmint
cmint

@DirtyP1 @CogitoErgoSum I like CES's idea.  Auto upload live to a non-cop controlled server.  Otherwise.......well you see where I'm going.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @DirtyP1 @CogitoErgoSum 

Watching the story last evening the reporter said that the officers cannot edit or delete anything that had been recorded - BUT -  (and it's a big BUT) they do have control over the ON / OFF status of the camera.

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