Body cameras are becoming expected, and they produce results
By: Dee Wampler
When Micah Johnson recently went on a shooting rampage in Dallas, body cameras by police were rolling with 170 hours of video of the mayhem. The footage is now stored in a sophisticated cloud computing system.
The major company is Taser International best known for making Taser stun guns. Taser has cornered the market for body cameras making it an important supplier of technology to law enforcement. Their Axon Pro (2009) body cameras are worn by officers in dozens of large cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, and Dallas¹.
Interest in body cameras commenced two years ago after the August 2014, Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown. Although Officer Wilson was not wearing a body camera, witnesses disputed his account of the altercation.
When cameras are worn, some can be grainy yet still play an increasingly important role in the aftermath of deadly shootings. The video can exonerate officers and in other instances may show police as being needlessly aggressive. Sometimes cameras become dislodged during the altercation and videos do not reveal much. But, the devices are becoming more common and many police officers have come to rely on them. Taser uses its “Evidence.com” service.
In research studies² researchers found that when officers are wearing body cameras the use of force by officers dropped 59% and complaints against officers dropped 87% especially when officers tell people that they are using the cameras which tend to produce better behavior by both sides.
Several competitors and some city officials accused Taser of cozying to police chiefs to secure lucrative contracts. Nearly all of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States have bought Taser stun guns³.
Taser is intertwined with police departments and some of their recently hired employees were former police chiefs who had been awarded Taser contracts. Taser is defending its sales tactics. Their “auto Taser” device that electrifies steering wheels to prevent car thefts, nearly bankrupted the company, but their sales of the powerful electrical weapon the M26 went public in 2001 which resembles a handgun and sales have soared.
¹David Gellers, “Company known for its stun guns corners the market for police body cameras.” New York Times, July 14, 2016, Pg. B1-5.
³Mark Stouse, Analyst with J.P. Morgan Chase; Chad Marlow, Advocacy and Policy Council, American Civil Liberties Union.
Dee Wampler – learn more
At the Law Offices of Dee Wampler & Joseph Passanise, Dee Wampler draws from more than four decades of legal experience in defending clients accused of an array of crimes throughout southwestern Missouri, including Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City. As a Springfield native, Mr. Wampler understands the nuances of the Missouri court system, but he is an equally formidable criminal trial attorney in high-profile federal cases involving serious charges. His work has earned him recognition across the country and even internationally. Several nationally syndicated television shows, including “Saturday Night with Connie Chung,” “Inside Edition” and ABC’s “Primetime” have featured his cases, and Missouri Lawyers Weekly has showcased his work approximately 20 times.