PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A CBS 3 I-Team Investigation finds, in addition to guns and badges, more and more officers nationwide are now wearing body cameras that document, with video and audio, every moment they are on patrol.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the cameras were among the top priorities for police chiefs worldwide who gathered this week for the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference hosted here by his department.
Ramsey, who says he favors the cameras, cautions they must be subject to careful guidelines.
Steve Lovell, representative of VieVu, who was busy showing the cameras to officers at the IACP conference, says his company has sold them to 3,000 police agencies in 15 countries.
The cameras can be clipped onto uniforms or attached to glasses.Gadi Piran, president of OnSSI, displayed a vest with three cameras, front and back, that could also send video in “real time”, allowing commanders to monitor situations as they happen.
Proponents of body cameras say they help protect police because suspects, when they realize they are being recorded, change their behavior quickly in many circumstances. The cameras also have resulted in a drop in civilian complaints against officers in many departments where they are in service.
Because the evidence gathered is on video, rather than in written reports, prosecutors say it could prove more effective when cases get to court. However, some, including veteran Philadelphia defense attorney William Brennan, caution that the video must be carefully secured and stored. Brennan worried that video of someone whose house was searched in 2013 would show up on YouTube, in his words, “50 years from now.”
Michel Moore, Assistant Chief of LAPD, told CBS 3 his department, within the next few weeks, is about to deploy 500 officers with body cameras. CBS Senior Correspondent John Miller explaining, whether you favor or oppose the cameras, “this is not something on the horizon, it’s something that is growing and is probably here to stay.”