SLCPD considers on-officer cameras

Posted at 5:15 PM, Nov 14, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - The Salt Lake City Police Dept. wants to replace dash cameras with small cameras that mount to officers' sunglasses. Police Chief Chris Burbank says it will usher in a new age of police work, but some are concerned that it's an invasion of privacy.

The lightweight camera sees everything the officer sees and is constantly recording. It can also stream live on a cell phone.

"What better way to document and say look at the emotion that took place. Look at the small mark or whatever it may be. All of that is captured and not missed," Burbank said.

Salt Lake City police say they expect the cameras will increase transparency and make everyone safer. The manufacturer says officer complaints at the 250 police departments using the cameras have gone down significantly.

"We are actually finding that this alters behavior. People who have a record of being belligerent and rude to law enforcement tend to behave a little better when they know they are being recorded," said Rick Smith with Taser International.

Cameras run about $1,000 apiece and the department wants about 250, but Burbank says the cameras would likely start replacing dash cameras which are five times the cost.

But there are privacy concerns that need to be addressed before officers are equipped with the new cameras: How long can the police keep recording and when should the camera be turned off?

"You have officer concerns about Big Brother looking over their shoulder all the time, and then you have public concerns. Individuals are being recorded," Burbank said.

But Burbank says there is some comfort knowing that when gathering evidence, it's hard to argue with video.