Laura Glendinning reports:
San Jose knows the way. . . to get it all on camera. 18 helmet cameras are being put into use in San Jose in a test program aimed at reducing escalating violence in arrests and general public interactions. The department has been under fire for a number of alleged abuses of force. Patrol officers in the experiment will be turning on the cameras every time they talk with anyone. The cameras look a lot like bluetooth earpieces, and are attached via headband. A mini computer rides on the officer’s belt. Every shift will end with a data download.
The American Civil Liberties Union has come out strongly against police cameras, seeing them as a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, but courts have held that citizens have little expectation of privacy in public spaces. Disclosure that a citizen is being recorded is required of all body camera-wearing officers.
Read more on Yes, But, However.
Fourth Amendment lawyer John Wesley Hall, Jr. comments on the story:
It says that the ACLU claims that recording an interaction is an invasion of privacy. How? What is the privacy interest in what a cop sees?
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that the police-citizen interaction was recorded. Either my client or the cop was lying. Just show me which one.
Hall’s comment makes sense, but since the device, AXON, records both video and audio, what happens when the officer forgets to shut off the recording and is caught making personal comments or other comments that perhaps, were best left unsaid or unrecorded? Will these recordings be restricted in their use to criminal complaints and complaints of citizen abuse? And how long will they be retained for?