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Smile: Equipping cops with body-mounted cameras gains steam in Calif., N.Y.

- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2014

The idea that cops should wear video cameras as they interact with the public is catching on, with police departments in California and New York leading the way.

"It's groundbreaking, it's starting to build up some steam, and I think it's truly the wave of the future," Tony Farrar, the chief of police for Rialto, Calif., told CNN.

Since implementing the body-mounted cameras, Rialto's police department saw a drop in the use of force from 60 incidents in 2011 to 25 the following year, CNN reported. Citizen complains went from 28 to three within the same time period. The city has 115 officers for a city of roughly 100,000 people.

While the new technology does face hurdles among civil liberties groups (e.g., when and how members of the public can access video of their interactions with cops) advocates say that the devices stop police officers from deviating from appropriate behavior.

CNN reported that American Civil Liberties Union's position is that the technology currently "places too much power in the hands of officers and not enough in the hands of the public," but supporters say such concerns are overblown. Its advocates say body-mounted cameras are incentive for cops to be on their best behavior.

It appears as though with enough time both sides will come to a consensus.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the ACLU's New York City branch, told CNN that she believes that if implemented under the right framework, the technology could be a good tool to hold officers accountable for their actions.

The technology isn't just being explored in the United States, either. Mr. Farrar told CNN that he's received inquiries about his program from countries that include Brazil, Japan and the United Kingdom.

"This truly is a tool that helps law enforcement increase the level of legitimacy in policing," the police chief told the network.

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