Wichita police testing out 6 body-mounted cameras (via The Wichita Eagle)

From the article by Stan Finger –

A half-dozen Wichita police officers are testing a new body camera system that records everything the officers see and do outside their vehicles.

The field tests began two weeks ago and will continue for another two weeks, Capt. Jeff Easter said Wednesday.

“Anything that they get out of the vehicle on, they’ll record,” Easter said of the officers. “Anything is evidence. You never know what’s going to happen in front of you when you get out on the scene.”

Early results are promising.

“It’s a very good system,” Easter said. “The video quality is amazing. It’s much better than any other camera system we’ve looked at in the past.”

The system is manufactured by Taser, which is letting Wichita police try it out. The head-mounted system resembles a Bluetooth and can also be attached to an officer’s hat or eyewear.

I’m a little surprised that the police are adopting these without any fuss. I have read and directly heard about the police disabling cameras. But apparently it has become a useful tool for the officer.

I’m a little more interested in what this means for the rest of us. I recognize that the technology is available to be purchased now but it is not the same. These things kick on every time an officer exits the car. They keep all of what is seen for a year. This is no short time surveillance camera in a tie. While we are not police officers whose department is willing to spend the $5,000 a year necessary, we will eventually be the beneficiaries of the technology. Soon at a reasonable price you will be able to make a record of everything you see 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It might be useful taking college classes or at a family reunion or in large scale use changing the social fabric of the nation.

Will all Americans adapt their behavior to an utterly continuous recording of themselves by countless others? What will be the long term social effects?

In terms of business ethics, what we have here is the private becoming public. Discussions, comments and negotiations will all be easily recorded in the most informal of circumstances with the ability to keep records for years. Is there a disclosure requirement? Is there going to be an unspoken agreement not to use these in negotiation? Can they be used in court? This kind of evidence could come back to bite you as long as it exists and eventually those records will exist for the course of our lives or longer.

Will states or the federal government regulate their use? That is an important question. There is some regulation of recording phone calls. The grounds for this is that there is no consent from one of the parties. That would be a similar justification for laws on continuous viewing by personal cameras.

These things worry me. We seem as a society to do things without discussion and debate. When we do it turns every single time into a debate over personal freedom versus government regulation whether or not these are significant factors in the issue. Every subject can be classified that way but that doesn’t mean it fits into that box. Surveillance is more of an issue of what can new technology do and “what the effects are.” What are the advantages of this technology? Does it conflict with our customs and morality? What effects will it have in different areas of endeavor; medical operations, trial, sports, sex, and countless others. Once we think about the effects then we can start putting it into legal or regulatory boxes. But in current discussion the boxes come first and we never do the often subtle thinking that allows humanity to make reasonable and intelligent decisions.

James Pilant


I went to a “gadget site” on the web. I couldn’t get a price but the system ad read this way. I think you’re supposed to feel like Tom Cruise in a Mission Impossible move.

This High Quality Body Camera set is ready for Covert Operations. This complete set is all you need. At a much better and higher resolution then our lower priced Body Cam, you get what you pay for. This is the best there is. Camera is powered by the DVR unit itself so there is no stupid 9 volt batery to weight you down.

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