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With advancements in technology allowing for cameras to be smaller, law enforcement agencies from around the world have started to equip their police officers with body cameras, cameras that are intended to record whenever an officer interacts with a civilian. Public demand for officers to equip theses cameras have risen in recent years due to the increased scrutiny of police related shootings, where mixed opinions in the public brewed debates whether the shootings were really necessary.
As helpful as body cameras are, they’re not perfect. In many cases where an officer has to draw and aim his weapon, you’ll often see the officer’s arm and hands obstructing the camera’s line of sight. In other cases, the torso-mounted body camera will only record what’s in front of the officer’s chest and not necessarily what the officers head is looking at. According to weapon technologies firm Viridian, body cameras manage to capture the view necessary to evaluate the reason officers fire their weapons only 37% of the time. Because of this Viridian has developed the FACT Duty Weapon Mounted Camera.
The FACT Duty Weapon Mounted Camera is a weapon attachment that records video and audio whenever the weapon is drawn out of the holster. The camera records everything the weapon is aiming at. Weapon mounted cameras are not intended to replace body cameras, but to work in unison with them in order to capture the most footage possible. In fact, in officer related shooting incidents, a weapon-mounted camera would have captured the critical view that a body camera would have missed 86% of the time.
The cameras begin recording whenever the weapon is drawn and automatically stop when they are holstered. Compared to body cameras, where officers have to manually turn on before civilian interaction, weapon cameras are much more convenient to operate and much more helpful in determining what happened in officer-related shootings.
Another advantage of the technology is the diminished need for storage space. With body cameras officers record hours of footage everyday, all of which has to be saved in a server somewhere. This takes server space and is expensive. However with weapon mounted cameras, footage is only recorded when the officer draws his gun, thus minimizing recording time.
A concern raised regarding the camera attachment to the weapon is how the weight of the attachment would affect the proper use of the weapon, but it turns out that the attachments are very light. Officers barely feel the added weight when they are at the shooting ranges. In addition to being light, the devices also include a high powered light, and with some models a laser.
Weapon mounted cameras are already being seen in use, with more than 400 law enforcement agencies across the United States adopting the technology, as reported by HoustonPublicMedia.org.