I’ve been wondering when someone would try this…

Calif. city’s police to wear head-mounted cameras

SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose police are testing head-mounted cameras to record interactions with the public.

The technology to build a system like this has been around for a while, now (think cell phone cameras). I’m not surprised someone’s finally trying it, and I completely support it. The implementation sounds interesting, too.

Officers are to turn on the cameras every time they talk with anyone. They download the recordings after every shift.

The cameras are the size of a Bluetooth cell phone earpieces and attach by a headband above the ear.

I am, however, skeptical. Since I started working as a paralegal, I’ve found it extremely dismaying how often the cruiser-mounted cameras “weren’t turned on” or were turned off early (in violation of department policy), or “weren’t working”. I’d guess that roughly 1 in 3 or 4 subpoenas for camera footage actually result in getting a recording. Of those, most don’t show anything useful to the defense because officer/suspect interactions tend to take place off camera. I don’t mean to imply that it’s intentional – the camera is usually pointing forward, and fixed – but there are some cases where I do have to say it’s questionable.

The upshot is that I have to wonder how often these head-mounted cameras will “fail” or turn out to have been “unintentionally obscured”. I love the idea – just like the cruiser-cams, the purpose of recording these interactions is to protect both the officer and the citizen, and preventing a case from boiling down to a “he said, she said” type of situation – I just wonder how well it will stand up to reality.

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