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Salt Lake City Police To Wear Camera Glasses 307

Psychotic_Wrath writes "The Salt Lake Police department will be much more transparent with their law enforcement. A program is being rolled out to require officers wear glasses equipped with a camera to record what they see. Of course, there are several officers opposed to this idea, who will resist the change. One of the biggest shockers to me is that the police chief is in strong support of this measure: 'If Chief Burbank gets his way, these tiny, weightless cameras will soon be on every police officer in the state.' With all the opposition of police officers being recorded by citizens that we are seeing throughout the country, it is quite a surprise that they would make a move like this. The officers would wear them when they are investigating crime scenes, serving warrants, and during patrols. Suddenly Utah isn't looking like such a bad place to be. Now we just need to hope other states and departments would follow suit. It sure will be nice when there is video evidence to show the real story."
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Salt Lake City Police To Wear Camera Glasses

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  • And the downside? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lyrata ( 1900038 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:02PM (#41984513)
    Sorry, but this doesn't make SLC seem much more appealing to me (aside from the Mormon thing). I don't think I want police recording me just by virtue of me being near a patrol.
  • by AG the other ( 1169501 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:03PM (#41984519)

    When it comes down to a trial the recording will be lost. Bet on it.

  • Round 1: FIGHT! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sgbett ( 739519 ) <> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:04PM (#41984527) Homepage

    "Privacy Advocates" vs "Police Transparency Enthusiasts"

    Should be a good battle.

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:04PM (#41984537)

    Also, what's to stop a cop from taking them off to do something under the table? A million excuses come to mind.

  • by Raelus ( 859126 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:05PM (#41984543)

    Much like other police footage, it will be impossible to get a hold of unless the police actually want it publically released. Nothing resembling Rodney King will ever be released to the public because of these glasses.

  • by darkeye ( 199616 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:07PM (#41984567) Homepage

    this doesn't change anything unless the cameras are always on, and the public can see all recordings at will.

    if not so, the recordings will only be used when it is favorable for the police, but not the other way around

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:09PM (#41984601) Journal

    For the sake of argument, let's assume that everyone in the Salt Lake PD gets a camera.
    Now the question becomes: who gets to review the footage and for what reason.

    That's where the real devil is.
    The union is going to fight for the most restrictive conditions possible in order to limit reviews of the footage.
    Because, god forbid, the bosses troll through the footage looking for misconduct instead of only checking it when allegations are made.

    So don't think that equipping the police with cameras is a panacea.
    My guess is that it won't be accessible under public records laws
    and the footage will only be used in court cases or when formal complaints are made.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:10PM (#41984603)

    If all officers are required to wear these, any time there is a question of what the cop did or said, vs what you did or said, if they can't provide the video they should accept your word. No more wrongful charges of resisting arrest or assaulting an officer. If it's not on video it didn't happen.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:12PM (#41984647)

    When it comes down to a trial the recording will be lost. Bet on it.

    And in the absence of otherwise compelling evidence, the jury will see the "lost tape" as evidence that the cops are lying, and they will vote to acquit. Jurors aren't stupid. They know that cops lie all the time, and it is already quite common for cops to be disbelieved.

  • by NinjaTekNeeks ( 817385 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:19PM (#41984747)
    There is a constant us vs. them mentality with the general public and the police. Even with a motto of "protect and serve", it is often obvious that this is not what the bad cops intend. With video recordings, weeding out the bad cops will be very easy, which will lay groundwork for the good cops to continue to build a relationship with the community.

    When the police are a menace to the neighborhood then the neighborhood will not work with them, they will not come forward with evidence and they will not testify. If the police can improve on these relations it is likely people will be more forthcoming with information.

    This is a win for everyone involved, however as others have stated I have a feeling that the footage will not be as freely available as we would like.
  • by jkflying ( 2190798 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:19PM (#41984749)

    They have the same mass in space. Their weight is essentially 0.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:20PM (#41984761)
    The jury won't be told that a recording ever existed. They still won't believe the police, but the lack of a video won't be admissible.
  • Re:Two way street (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:23PM (#41984809) Journal
    I don't subscribe to this paranoid hivemind stereotyping that *all* cops are violent, corrupt bastards either; like you said, sure, some are asshats, and get into the "biz" for all the wrong reasons (power, authority) and I hate those pricks (I've known a few), but not all cops. There really are good guys out there too. The bad just get the most publicity.
    That said, most cops are given a measure of leniency when exercising their discretion: if they want to give you that speeding ticket, they can; likewise if they're in a good mood and you're not an asshat at them, they can just let you off with a warning (I've had that happen) - even if the RADAR showed you speeding, they're allowed to let you slide if they decide to, so I tend to doubt this would interfere with that side of things, honestly -unless it was a much more serious offense, and in that case, no one should be sliding anyway, really.
  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:36PM (#41984969)

    It will start mattering when facial recognition gets integrated into this as a "next logical step for public safety".

  • I don't think the public will or should ever be able to see all the recordings at will. Police officers are often in places and looking at things that the public does not have a valid interest in seeing -- not because of the officers, but because of the rights of the public with whom they're interacting.

    I'm sure the defense would be able to subpoena the relevant segments of recordings, though, and the police will have some explaining to do if they're routinely not available.

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:54PM (#41985201)

    Plus they will use it as an excuse to prevent people from doing their own recording. "You can turn that camera off now, this incident is already being recorded by our glasses cameras should the record be needed".

  • Re:Two way street (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:20PM (#41985461) Homepage

    Have we stopped to consider that this may increase the number of things people get written up for because the officer will be less likely to 'let it slide'? How rampant is police abuse really? Sure, I've seen cops be dicks about things, but I've also had them let me off the hook. If everything they were doing was being recorded, I don't think they would have been as lenient.

    I'm going to assume you're not black, latino or homeless.

  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:20PM (#41985467) Homepage Journal

    Those excuses only hold up (very tenuously) when there's one officer. When multiple officers have the same malfunction it starts to look like conspiracy. That's enough to get a case thrown out of court.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:26PM (#41985533)

    Minnesota Valley Transit Authority buses are all equipped with multiple cameras both internally and externally. When I have either witnessed issues which could be considered safety hazards to the buses and/or the people riding, I have requested these feeds. Most of the time I am told the camera was not functioning at the time and they'd investigate why: []

    When they were in the right they were quick to release the tape: []

    This is exactly what will happen here.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:06PM (#41986521) Homepage

    Still all in all, a better balance would be that the police turn them on when ever they are going to interact with the public and the rest of the time they are off. Good police officers still deserve a measure of privacy and personal respect. Bad police officers who fail to turn them on prior to interacting with the public should be fired.

    Problem with these cameras of course, bad officers will soon learn to strike out of camera view with fist and truncheon to escalate violence, whilst their partner 'looks' the other way and then deny it with 'proof' of video. Much like DNA evidence, better not get too wrapped into what the camera 'sees' unless they go with a fish eye lens and high resolution so they can extract the scene they are after.

  • by xenobyte ( 446878 ) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @03:08AM (#41989135)

    Well, then you pretty much have to say "any police action which doesn't have the corresponding video will result in disciplinary action".

    Should be even stronger: Require that video evidence by camera-wearing cops be used in court in lieu of the officer's testimony. If they were supposed to be wearing the camera and weren't, their testimony will not be allowed as a substitute.

    Perfect! - Yes, that's exactly what must be done. Require the camera and require that its recording be used, possibly in addition to a normal testimony. But no recording means no testimony, and if no recordings are available, only physical evidence recovered can be used, and only where it isn't in dispute.

    Another obvious thing would be that any insults by the arrestee recorded automatically results in a fine for each if brought to court. People need to respect the police if they expect the police to respect them, and step one is to talk politely and avoid profanity. A fine of $50 for each insult recorded would be reasonable and the fine must be paid in full within 14 days. No extension and no payment plan. This ensures that it will be felt and thus hopefully make people think before they insult.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak