New Trends Police Body Worn Cameras Com0011 Part 2

li-body-worn-video-camera-1I was having a chat with my brother-in-law who has an extensive background in law enforcement.  I don’t recall how this subject came up but I have a suspicion that i may have raised the issue of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and I must raised the issue of Police wearing body cameras.

For the record I have zero knowledge of anything to do with law enforcement, parking tickets notwithstanding.

This is not as straight forward an issue as I might have thought, but i can also see some potential solutions now and in the future.

My brother-in-law raised the following issues

“Through the local Police Services Board, the public ought to be engaged in a conversation about what is acceptable in terms of the use of B.W.C. (body worn cameras), managing expectations, and what, as taxpayers, are they, as the local community, willing to pay for”

At present:

…there is currently a lack of developed policy with respect to the wearing and using of body worn cameras (B.W.C.).  First, it has to be determined  is this a matter of provincial interest, or left to the discretion of each community?

There is more to the issue then just paying for cameras for each officer.

There is the cost of the cameras

There is the cost of maintaining them

Does (is) every on duty police officer issued a B.W.C., or is it restricted (patrol, traffic, tactical, C.I.B., Forensics, Intelligence

There is the cost of transcribing the information for evidentiary use, be it being part of an investigation, or part of court proceedings.

There is the cost of ensuring that innocent people who an officer comes across but are not part of an incident/investigation are blurred out. (i.e. having a person (s) on staff who is trained to deal with the above issues.

There is the cost of purchasing a means of storing the video clips.

There is the cost associated with establishing policies for the collection and use of information gathered

Who determines when and how the camera is turned on and then turned off?


Using the money to have more police officers available

or not increasing budgets at all

First things first

About the community being engaged is a conversation about what is acceptable in terms of the use of B.W.C etc.  This is an issue where Social Media can be a game changer.  A perusal of the Ottawa Police Service Board Website shows that the only opportunity for a two-way conversation occurs is if you want to form a delegation and show up at a meeting.  You can also sign up for a newsletter.  The Toronto Police Services Board has an extensive Social Media Platform.  In fairness the Ottawa Police have developed an App for dealing with police issues (on-line reporting of crime, crime maps, traffic disruptions.)

I’m thinking that one opportunity would be to create a unified policy regarding establishing Social Media Platforms. Admittedly the first step in creating a social Media platform would be to “listen“, using Google, for example to see what people are saying about you. The Optics of this may be problematic, but if it’s on the web, then its fair game.

It’s problematic to look at this incidents that have occurred in the United States from a Canadian Perspective. Having said that, having a social Media Platform may also be beneficial as 2 way communication may result in the Restoration of trust. This is also a benefit of using B.W.C. as it could lead to the “restoration of trust” in Police forces. One of the recurring themes in the shooting of Michael Brown was `was excessive force used. Potentially that question could have been answered had there been a B.W.C. on the Police officer involved. The integrity of the footage may be called into question, but there would be an answer

As for the Civil Liberties “when cameras primarily serve the function of allowing public monitoring of the government instead of the other way around, we generally regard that as a good thing.”

 “Public complaints against officers dropped by 88 per cent compared with the previous 12 months. The use of force by officers fell by 60 per cent.”

The next issue is what I would like to refer to as the cost of doing business“

The statistics above point to an opportunity to save money in a police Departments budget. Less Public Complaints equals less time involved in investigating said complaints. Ditto with having to investigate Use of force complaints. Less time investigating these issues equals more time investigating other complaints

This is where the notion of the “Internet of everything” and it’s impact on this entire issue

New economic analysis by Cisco reveals that the Internet of Everything is a $4.6 trillion opportunity for global public-sector organizations over the next decade, as a result of cost savings, increased productivity, new revenues and enhanced citizen experiences.”

“Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as the networked connection of people, process, data, and things. The benefit of IoE is derived from the compound impact of connecting people, process, data, and things, and the value this increased connectedness creates as “everything” comes online. “

Where the impact of IoE connects with this issue is this. When it becomes a reality each device will have it’s on ip address. This in conjunction with WiFi will allow remote access to a device in real-time. Will this eliminate the need for stand alone data storage and result in cost savings? The down side to this issue will be will it be vulnerable to hacking? Does IoE have the potential to solve some of the issues raised by my Brother in law vis-a-vis costs? Will the advent of IoE result in cost saving by taking automation to a new level. Will the cost of each device and it’s associated peripherals go down because of amped up economies of scale, (i.e. creating an increase in productivity by adding or increasing a factor of production), Only time will tell as this is a blog about future trends

However all of these issues become moot if there is no conversation (will) to engage in changing the status quo, and at the end of the day pay for it

To my mind the last two options that my brother-in-law raised are simply not acceptable. This may be more of an issue in the United States then here in Canada but adding more police officers to any force (may not) will not address the issue of trust. More two-way communication will help solve that problem.





4 thoughts on “New Trends Police Body Worn Cameras Com0011 Part 2

  1. Very informative blog Keith. George Orwell would be proud. I am just curious as to the name of the Ottawa Police App? I am curious to see it.

  2. Hi Keith, I enjoyed your article and I have to say you make some good points. I am a police officer with 8 years experience and I must say that a BWC would most certainly have saved me some wasted time and unnecessary embarrassment when I was falsely accused by members of the public. I go to work each and every day and do my absolute best to conduct myself with the utmost integrity but I am after all human. I find that one of the biggest issues when dealing with the public is that they feel that you are a punching bag, or door mat that they have the right to do so say whatever they like because as I often hear, “my taxes pay your salary”. One of the biggest things that BWC will miss is an officer’s perspective. Everyone watching the video footage will be able to sit there an analyze it from every angle but no one except the officer gets to live it. A camera cannot take into account, anxiety, fear, fatigue, illness, or just plain anger. We are all human but I feel like when I view footage from cell phone cameras where officers are being scrutinized, we are expected to be soulless, unfeeling robots. My other concern is how does one really get a sense of what is taking place when the camera has a limited view of the situation. As I said earlier, the officer is living it where as the camera may only be capturing 50% of what is actually taking place.

    I do agree that the use of cameras may help with public trust. I also think that video footage is very subjective and can be interpreted in so many different ways.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Thank you for this. It adds another layer of understanding to a complex issue. This entire blogg had its origins in a 10 minute conversation that I had with my brother-in-law. As I also said I have zero knowledge of real police work, (i.e. as opposed to T.V.). In one sense it’s easy for my to talk about a subject that I know nothing about, (i.e. I don’t have to live any of this). Your input about the reality of this was enlightening

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