Dallas is now a test market for new surveillance cameras for police officers.
The practice of body cameras are becoming widely used by departments to document police activity from an officer’s point of view. Carrollton police recently started wearing cameras.
“Body cameras are crucial,” said Jolene DeVito, Carrollton police spokesperson. “To just have indisputable, step-by-step evidence of what happened is good for everybody involved.”
Even thought the cameras have a lot of positives, there are many logistical challenges for police departments, such as, large digital video filed have to be stored and released to the public when requested. The problem with the videos going public is that images of bystanders faces must be blurred and it takes time go through all the data.
“What we’ve found with body camera video is that you may be talking to a suspect, but they may have ten innocent bystanders in that field of view. It’s a violation of their privacy to have that video end up in public hands,” said Chris Lindenau, Vice President of Utility, Inc., a body camera maker.
Police Chiefs in Dallas attended a conference and Utility, Inc. demonstrated new technology that promises to simplify the video management process. Instead of blurring being done by a technician, Utility’s body camera system automatically identifies skin tones, license plates and even voices in video and redacts them so that footage can be released more quickly.
“Up until now, it’s been a very arduous and manual process,” said Lindenau.
The cameras are also have GPS and gyroscopes, so departments can monitor an officer’s location in real time. Video is uploaded to a secure cloud, therefore, officers will not need to download the footage and store in the station.
Each camera will cost about $75 a month. The technology is already being used by dozens of departments. No word yet if Dallas will adopt the Utility cameras full-time or not.