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N.Y. Senator Pushes For Cameras On Cop Handguns

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) ― In a flash, a police officer draws a handgun from its holster. Less than two seconds later, a red laser and bright light shine at whatever is in the gun barrel's path while a mini-camera records it all.

That's how mini-cams on police handguns would work under a proposal gaining support in New York, which would be the first state in the nation to require the technology. State police were briefed on the technology and are reviewing it for a possible pilot program, said Michael Balboni, the state's deputy secretary for public safety.

The device could create a critical visual and audio record of police shootings for use in court, said state Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat and former police officer. He is drumming up support for testing the cameras with the state police SWAT squad.

Adams said recordings from the $695 cameras couldn't be altered by a police officer and would quell many questions after controversial police shootings, like the deaths in New York City of Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006.

"That's definitely a new thing," said Meredith Mays of the International Association of Chiefs of Police based in Virginia. She said police have known the technology existed, but no state has required it.

Some police departments have put cameras on Tasers in the last couple years, but there is no major national effort by police to seek or block gun cameras at the federal level, according to the National Association of Police Organizations, a major lobbyist.

"We believe the state of New York can lead the country," said Adams, who retired after 21 years as a New York police officer. "There no longer can be a question mark that lingers after shootings."

Adams, who was never involved in a shooting, said the lights on the 5-ounce camera could be turned off if they would expose the officer to danger in a dark area. But the camera and optional audio recorder would remain operating for up to 60 minutes.

He said the images would also help identify suspects who get away. He wants a pilot program that would allow testing by police at shooting ranges. That could lead to a law mandating the gun cameras, he said.

Adams knows many police won't embrace the idea at first.
There was no immediate comment from the police department and police officers union in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office said it will review any legislation that comes from Adams' effort.

But in Albany, there is growing support.

Republican Sen. Dale Volker of Erie County, a former police officer who would be critical to passing the Democrat-backed bill, already sought funding for a pilot program. But that $300,000 request to test the technology in state police SWAT squads was cut in the budget this spring as part of efforts to close a deficit of about $5 billion.

"You have to understand, particularly in urban areas today, it is not like the old days when if someone was shot you went before a grand jury," said Volker. Today, he said, an officer would also face intense media and community attention.

"It's a different world," he said. "It's not even a matter of right and wrong a lot of times. It's that people decide very often whatever you did was probably wrong."

In the Democrat-led Assembly, Adams and his colleagues in the influential black, Hispanic and Asian caucus like the idea.
The gun camera is made by Legend Technologies, based in the Adirondack mountains town of Keesville, N.Y.
 

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Interesting. It brings up a few questions in my mind, though.

First, will anyone actually be able to decipher the "pistol-cam" video to determine how a shooting went down? If you are holding your gun at "low ready" you are filming the ground a few feet in front of you. A well-trained cop who is a decent marksman won't be aiming at the suspect for very long before squeezing off the shot, and then you are filming recoil. I question whether the video that comes out of these things would be very helpful in an investigation.

That being said, will cops armed with gun-cams be tempted to aim at suspects when it isn't necessary, in order to get it on film?

5-ounces sounds like a small amount of weight to add, but how will it affect officers' ability to shoot?

Most importantly, what does the average officer on the street think about this idea? :dunno:
 

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I wonder why they can't mount such a small and light camera in a better location... like on their belt or shoulder... in such a way that it wouldn't be able to be accidentally jarred away from it's aiming point... ???
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I still think that helmet cams are a better idea, it looks where the officer looks and doesn't affect their ability to use their weapons. Plus it records events that don't necessitate a gun draw and the weight is negligible. Of course, it does require that officers wear helmets or eyewear/headsets that incorporate a camera.
 
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"First, will anyone actually be able to decipher the "pistol-cam" video to determine how a shooting went down?"

I agree with this. I think when shootings happen, things happen so fast that there will be little to nothing of value recorded by the cameras. It might get a glance at the suspect or see the gun going off but I have a hard time swallowing it will pick up all the intangibles needed to show a justified shooting or the opposite. Seems like an additional senseless burden to place on officer when trying to do their job and an another reason for them to second guess thier actions, putting their lives at risk. Big Brother anyone?
 

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I like the camera in another location suggestion like on a helmet, headset or something that will point where you are looking. I for one if ever pulled over by the cops and removed from my car will ask specifically to be kept within view of the dash cam at all times!
 
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