Tuesday, May 13, 2008

N.Y. Senator Wants Cameras On Cop's Guns

Oh yeah, this is a great idea. /Snark. Like police officers aren't second-guessed enough as it is?

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) ― In a flash, a police officer draws a handgun from its holster. Less than two seconds later, a red laser and bright light shine at whatever is in the gun barrel's path while a mini-camera records it all.

That's how mini-cams on police handguns would work under a proposal gaining support in New York, which would be the first state in the nation to require the technology. State police were briefed on the technology and are reviewing it for a possible pilot program, said Michael Balboni, the state's deputy secretary for public safety.

The device could create a critical visual and audio record of police shootings for use in court, said state Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat and former police officer. He is drumming up support for testing the cameras with the state police SWAT squad.

Adams said recordings from the $695 cameras couldn't be altered by a police officer and would quell many questions after controversial police shootings, like the deaths in New York City of Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006.

Yeah, and they could condemn an innocent police officer in a lot of shooting incidents, too.

Adams, who was never involved in a shooting, said the lights on the 5-ounce camera could be turned off if they would expose the officer to danger in a dark area. But the camera and optional audio recorder would remain operating for up to 60 minutes.

He said the images would also help identify suspects who get away. (H/T - WCBSTV)

In a perfect world, this would be a terrific idea. Unfortunately, the last time I checked, this world was far from perfect. I mean, Sarah Jessica Parker is a movie star, for cripes' sake!

My main problem with this initiative is that the gun camera would only record the actions and people that are in front to the gun sight. That's great if it is a shooting incident . . . with only one offender involved . . . who is directly in front of the gun sight.

Does that happen? Sure. Does it happen all the time? Absolutely not. The only time that always happens is at the pistol range.

In a real life situation, a steady, gun-mounted camera is not sufficient to capture everything that is going on during an intense, high-pressure shooting incident. There is no way to adequately represent everything that is going on at the time. A jury will not see the bystanders. A jury will not see the other threats around the officer. A jury will not see where the offender's shots are going.

Have any of you seen a police officer attacked during a car stop? How well do those dashboard-mounted cameras work? They're not digital quality, they do not capture the entire scene, and if the officer or suspect go off-screen, the camera is useless. Personally, I think a gun-mounted camera will have the same imperfections.

The only way a police shooting will be completely and adequately be captured on film is if the cities place video cameras on every street corner and from every light pole. And even then, there's no guarantee that Big Brother will get it right.

Hey, I'm all for capturing police shootings on film - even though most of the cop-hating public wouldn't believe the results, anyway - but before this device is mandatory, someone needs to work out some of the kinks.

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