Though body cams have been widely credited for increasing cop accountability, a number of police departments are considering replacing the devices with cameras that are mounted directly on the guns.
According to the Associated Press, critics of the body cam point to the many instances in which valuable footage was obstructed by walls or an officer’s body part.
A gun cam, they argue, will show exactly what the gun is pointing at.
“It’s kind of cutting-edge technology now,” Michael Kovacse, assistant chief of the St. Petersburg, Florida, told the AP. “One thing about the gun camera is you can actually see what’s going on […] You actually get to see the viewpoint of the officer where the weapon is pointed.”
Other benefits of gun cams include lower video storage costs (which can run up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year) as well as technology that alerts nearby officers whenever an officer’s weapon is drawn; however, not everyone is on board with replacing body cams with gun cams.
Law enforcement officials and civil rights groups are concerned that gun cams do not show the events leading up to the officer pulling out his/her gun. They also won't capture other interactions the officers have with the public.
“If you put a camera on a gun, it’s only going to work when you pull your gun,” NYPD Deputy Chief Timothy Trainor explained. “We’re more concerned about capturing (all) interactions between the community that we are tasked to serve and the officers.”
Officials for the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union echoed Trainor’s concerns.
“I think there’s a lot of context you’re going to be missing with the gun-mounted cameras,” said Ngozi Ndulue, senior director of criminal justice programs at the NAACP. “I think we need to focus more on the policies for implementing body cameras and making sure officers are turning on their body cameras.”
According to the AP, gun cams are being tested in several departments, but no police agency has formally approved the use of the device.