WATCH | Police body cam industry leader Taser has developed a new system called Axon Signal that will trigger its body cameras to auto-record at the beginning of any civilian interaction.
More police body cameras, or better police body cameras?
The new tech will aim to eliminate instances where police officers fail to manually engage their cameras ahead of a confrontation -- like what happened in the police shootings of Keith Scott and Laquan McDonald.
Of course, first police would have to want to use the new tech.
Engaging a Taser will automatically trigger record mode.
Auto-recording police body camera
Instead of expecting police to double-tap a body cam controller ahead of confrontations, the system can be configured to auto-trigger the recording functions on police cameras through flipping on lights and siren or engaging a stun gun.
When Axon Signal is triggered, other police body cams within 30 feet will also begin recording.
Taser's VP of communications, Steve Tuttle, told Circa that a future Axon Signal trigger could be attached to officers' gun holsters, meaning body cam recording would start when a police handgun is drawn.
The Axon Signal will trigger record mode on all police body cams within 30 feet of an "event."
The downsides to auto-recording
So besides the extra costs, why wouldn't police departments want to upgrade to auto-recording body cams? Retired NYPD sergeant Joseph Giacalone talked to Circa about the downsides of capturing every civilian/police interaction.
"Crime scenes are going to be recorded -- death scenes and car accidents and all of these other things," he explained. "We're going down a slippery slope with these things."
The logical end: recording all the time?
That slippery slope, Giacalone believes, ends with having these body cameras recording all the time.
"People are worried about video surveillance in public -- now you're going to have thousands of cops with cameras on [and recording] them," he said. "Privacy is going to be out the window."
Don't worry, no one wants recording all the time
So far, Taser agrees with Giacalone and privacy enthusiasts, with Tuttle telling Circa that it's "ridiculous" to think police body cameras should be recording at all times.
"You'll get complaints in the unions," he explained, "saying, 'I can't even talk to my partner about a divorce I'm going through,' 'I can't talk about the chief,' 'I can't even swear."
When are auto-recording body cams coming?
Tuttle says the Axon Signal system is just now becoming available for purchase by police departments.
Taser's pitch to police to by the Axon Signal system, according to Tuttle: "You can go do your job without worrying about being a film director."
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