from the watch-this dept.
Lily Hay Newman reports that the LAPD has ordered 3,000 Tasers that, when discharged, will automatically activate cameras on officers' uniforms, which will create visual records of incidents at a time of mounting concern about excessive force by U.S. law enforcement officers. The new digital Taser X26P weapons record the date, time and duration of firing, and whether Taser wires actually strike suspects and how long the thousands of volts of electricity pulse through them. “This technology gives a much better picture of what happens in the field,” says Steve Tuttle. The idea of using a Taser discharge as a criterion for activating body cams is promising, especially as more and more police departments adopt body cams and struggle to establish guidelines for when they should be on or off. Police leadership—i.e., chiefs and upper management—is far more supportive of the technology and tends to view body-worn cameras as a tool for increasing accountability and reducing civil liability. On the other hand, the patrol officer culture is concerned that the technology will be an unfair intrusion into their routine activities—for instance, it might invite over-managing minor policy violations. "In addition to these new Taser deployments, we plan to issue a body-worn camera and a Taser device to every officer," says Police Chief Charlie Beck. "It is our goal to make these important tools available to every front line officer over the next few years."