Gun cam offers another tool for transparency in policing

Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 09:28:20-05

Call it the evolution of technology for police officers on the job -- a camera that records what an officer sees when initiating the most lethal use of force.

The "gun cam" features a wide-angle lens that records everything in a direct line with the gun including audio. The technology aims to show the officer's target before the trigger is pulled.

The camera starts to record the moment the gun is drawn. It can't be turned off and it doesn't stop recording until the gun is back in the holster.

"Recent events have called for an increase in technology as well as possibly looking over training and how law enforcement approaches certain things," said Max Kramer, CEO and Founder of Centinel Solutions.

Kramer started working on what he calls the "The Shield Police Gun Camera" or "gun cam" when police started to wear body cameras.

"If you're a plain clothes officer, you can't have a body camera on," said Kramer.

The gun cam records everything once the gun is pointed, even if the officer is hiding behind a shield or a wall.

Not only does the gun cam create a video record of events, but also has Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS mapping features. As soon as the gun is drawn the gun cam can send push alerts to nearby officers and notify dispatch that an officer needs help.

"Hopefully the officer gets the opportunity to get across on the radio what's going on so yeah it could have those benefits if you turn in to one of those dynamic situations," said Officer Martin Warshaw with the West Palm Beach Police Department.

Officer Warshaw is an instructor. Currently, officers wearing body cameras have to physically activate them to record, but soon an upgrade will connect the camera to their taser and activate the camera the moment the taser is drawn.

"Being out on the street it's dynamic. These officers can literally turn the corner and get involved in a traumatic incident," said Warshaw. "I don't want to have to have them worry about, 'did I double tap my camera to turn this thing on?'

Warshaw sees the benefits of having a camera record the most dangerous scenarios on the job, but the reality is, people want to see what led up to them.

"The body camera is going to catch the incident this way, off your shoulder, off your glasses, from your chest as to when a lot of times, your weapon is actually pointed downwards," added Warshaw.

And officers wearing body cameras can turn them off. Kramer says the gun cam will always preserve evidence of what happened in the most lethal situations, especially when officers are on plain clothes assignments.

"This does not protect anybody more than the other. This is a tool. There's a criminal justice system that ultimately, actions are judged in court," added Kramer.

The gun cam runs about the same price as a body camera and is universal to fit any gun holster. The footage from the camera can be uploaded to a server but cannot be deleted from the camera. Since the camera records as it comes out of the holster, if the lens is tampered with, that too will show up on video.


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