New device would turn on police body cameras

Posted at 7:12 PM, Oct 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 12:48:41-04

SAN DIEGO - New technology could soon be used to activate police-worn body cameras when a confrontation is sensed and about to escalate.

"There have been a number of critical incidents in Chicago, in Charlotte, where the body worn camera is not on when it needed to be," said Sean McCarthy, vice president of Safariland, which makes the VieVu body camera.

The latest version senses when the cameras should be on by attaching to an officer's holster. As soon as an officer draws his or her gun, the body camera starts recording. It also saves the 30 seconds prior to the officer grabbing the gun.

Safariland unveiled the product at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, held at the San Diego Convention Center this week.

"We don't want the officer worried too much about the body worn camera," McCarthy said. "We want them engaged in the situation, and so knowing the holster is going to activate the camera for them is one less thing they have to worry about."

The camera will keep recording until the officer turns it off. The video, which the officer does not have access to, uploads to the cloud while the camera's in the charger.

"This solves a fundamental challenge of trust in law enforcement with the public," McCarthy said.

A San Diego police spokesman could not immediately say whether the department was considering the product.

More than 1,000 San Diego police officers wear body cameras in the field.