A few weekends ago was the first time I ever used my Taser body worn camera (BWC). It was an easy transition from the Puma audio recorder we were issued a few years ago. Like anything new, you just have to get used to turning it on and off.
I don’t see the BWC as a bad thing. It’s a good thing that was needed in today’s volatile climate. If the BWC shows a suspect is guilty and keeps me out of court then it’s a good thing. If a person lies about something and the camera was running, then it did its job.
Is the BWC the end all when it comes to investigations?
The BWC shows a lot, but it can’t replace the good old human eye, head and neck. The head can turn to look. The BWC can’t. Its field of view is dependent on where the officer wears it.
As an officer, you’re trained to keep you gun side back. That means standing at an angle to a suspect with the gun away. Since my BWC is on my belt that means its field of view might be turned slightly away from the suspect.
I bring that up because a non-law enforcement person might wonder why the video didn’t show everything they expected to see. There’s just no perfect place to wear it.
When I entered the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy in 1994 I never imagined wearing a camera while working. It wasn’t something you thought about. As the years went by, new technology changed how we did things. Equipment got faster, smaller and smarter.
The BWC age is upon us, so you might as well embrace it because it’s not going away. If you don’t have a BWC yet, you will soon.
There’s an interesting feature about the camera when the power switch is on. It’s always recording the last 30 seconds with no audio. When you activate the camera to the record mode the audio then starts. The BWC retains the last 30 seconds of video prior to the record button being activated.
So, this brings me to an interesting thing about the BWC. I’m not worried the BWC is going to show me doing something wrong.
The main thing you have to worry about with the BWC is to make sure the power is off when you go to the rest room.
I didn’t think about it until the first time nature called and I had this new piece of technology attached to the front of my belt.
Let me say that again. “Attached to the front of my belt.”
It’s just a little something the newbies to the world of law enforcement cameras should think about. It brings new meaning to being caught with your pants down.
The age of the body worn camera is upon us. Say Cheese.
Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415 (badge415.wordpress.com/). His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. behindthebadgeoc.com will share some of his columns