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While body cameras are becoming more popular among law enforcement teams, gun-mounted cameras provide a better point of view, since they are usually aimed directly at the suspect and are less likely to be blocked when an officer shields their torso behind something.
Centinel Solutions is one of the first companies to deliver the devices to police departments for testing, according to cnbc.com.
Centinel’s Shield Weapon Camera fits with the vast majority of gun holsters and its software complies with law enforcement protocols for access and logging files. “We’re in the business of having an unbiased tool which can solve one of the most contentious problems in the U.S. right now,” said Centinel CEO Max Kramer.
The gun-camera mounts under the barrel of the gun and starts rolling as soon as a weapon is drawn. Video is encrypted and can be stored locally or in the cloud using Amazon’s AWS Government Cloud infrastructure.
The drawing of a weapon also triggers an alert, sent via a mobile app, to a desktop portal manned by an officer back at a police office.
According to the company’s website, its camera is a universal tamper-proof device intended to provide communities with the video evidence and accountability they want.
Shield comes with a host of proprietary applications and connectivity – bluetooth / Wifi connectivity, individualized serial number, tamper proof memory, 17-hour rechargeable Li-ion battery, and more.
Anthony Holloway, Chief of Police at one of the Florida units testing the technology, along with body-worn cameras, says that so far, they prefer the gun-camera. “The camera’s actually on the end of the gun, so it’s showing you exactly what I am seeing, I don’t have to worry about trying to position my body,” he said.
The next steps will be to test the devices on the street, to develop a policy on storing the footage incorporating community feedback and — if they decide to move forward — ask the Mayor and City Council for a budget.
Though the devices themselves cost roughly the same as body cameras — several hundred dollars apiece — the video transmission and storage costs are substantially lower, since the cameras are recording much less footage, said Holloway. That means far less video for police departments to transfer, store and protect.
Ron Brooks, who advises Centinel on marketing strategy, explains that Officers out on patrol never know when they will have to pull out a weapon — they may be doing a routine traffic stop or responding to a report of domestic violence when things suddenly escalate.
“These events are so rapid and stressful that, oftentimes, it’s hard for people to even remember what happened,” he said. “I have never been able to say how many rounds I have shot — when someone’s trying to kill you all you’re really worried about is trying to make it home.”