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"Cop Cam": Phila. police will soon wear video cameras, in test

"Axon Flex" video camera; this version is attached to glasses
taser.com
(CBS) PHILADELPHIA - Some Philadelphia police officers will soon be on duty with small video cameras attached to them. The department is getting about a half-dozen "cop cams," designed to be mounted on an officer's glasses, hat or collar and capture every moment of what happens while an officer is at a scene.

The cameras are the brainchild of the same company that makes the Taser, Philly.com reports.

With so many citizens more than happy to post their own arrest videos online, the cameras, called Axon Flex, could let the police show the entirety of an incident from their point of view, said Rick Smith, co-founder of Taser International.

"To have your own recording is the best weapon against allegations against you," he said, according to Philly.com.

The cameras cost about $1,000 per officer and Taser provides departments with free one-year access to the website Evidence.com, which departments can use to upload and store their videos.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the department will test Taser's cameras, but if there is interest in purchasing them, requests for proposals from other manufacturers would be sought.

"I see some benefits in terms of if there is a complaint that occurs at a later time you do have some very powerful video evidence as to what took place," he said. "The disadvantage is it's a pretty expensive proposition when you're talking about a department our size."

Another problem is that Pennsylvania's wiretap laws would prohibit audio recording, Ramsey said.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit police, which covers San Francisco's public-transportation system, has purchased 160 on-officer cameras with grant money. The cameras have not yet been rolled out, as the department is still finalizing a policy, said Officer Era Jenkins, BART police spokeswoman.

"It will create a new level of trust," she said. "You can't say you're hiding anything because we'll have it all right there."


  • Barry Leibowitz

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