Today in lowjack news:

Oakland officer videotapes his killing of suspect

In a Bay Area first, a fatal shooting by police in East Oakland was captured on video - not by a bystander with a camcorder or a smart phone but by the officer himself, who wore a city-issued camera on his chest. [...]

The shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m. on the 9900 block of Cherry Street. Police officials said the trouble began when two officers, who have not been identified, pulled over a car for an unspecified violation, only to watch the passenger flee on foot. One officer caught the suspect, who had a gun and drugs, and shot him during a struggle, police said. [...]

After the shooting, neither the officer nor his partner was allowed to view the footage from the camera before speaking to investigators, said sources familiar with the matter. [...]

"This is not a tool to work against us," she said, "but a tool to help us, to bring clarity to what happened in a situation." She added, "You can't change the facts of a video." [...]

Michael Risher, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney in San Francisco, said, "In any investigation, it is not a good practice to show a tape to a witness before an interview. ... I think any police officer will tell you that."

Previously.

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14 Responses:

  1. Phill says:

    This seems like a positive development, for once.

  2. Ronan Waide says:

    > "You can't change the facts of a video."

    Aside from the obvious fallacy of that, there's also the interesting question - asked in the article - of who /does/ get access to the video. The strong point of the panopticon, as I recall, is that /anyone/ can see what's happening, not just a select few.

    An English comedian-turned-activist did a stunt a few years back where he did something obvious (hot air balloon flight, morris dancing) in sight of government-owned CCTV cameras and then requested the footage under the Freedom of Information Act. The UK MoD was the most forthcoming, providing a DVD, but various other agencies claimed to have no footage, or to have deleted it, or some such excuse.

    • jwz says:

      You're confusing "The Panopticon" with "The Transparent Society". But yeah, access to this info will obviously be... complicated. I'm reminded of the fact that in England, it's illegal to publish photos of someone in cuffs before they have been convicted, whereas here, the "perp walk" is a prime time staple.

      • Ronan Waide says:

        D'oh, yes, "The Transparent Society".

      • Something which I regard as a Good Thing. The theatre around that US institution really just seems to me to encourage the idea that there's no difference between "being a suspect", "being arrested" (itself a special case of being a suspect), and "being guilty"; both in the minds of the police and the public in general. And by being so public, it really discourages anyone from admitting they erred in the arrest in the first place.

      • Sam Kington says:

        Similarly, Plantu, the editorial cartoonist for Le Monde, had to redraw a cartoon originally depicting a politician in handcuffs, because said politician had merely been accused in court and not actually arrested or convicted.

    • NotTheBuddha says:

      "The strong point of the panopticon, as I recall, is that /anyone/ can see what's happening, not just a select few. "

      No, it was the reverse: the watchers were hidden from the inmates to allow understaffing and cheap operating costs, and the inmates were hidden from society.

  3. stickfigure says:

    I'm surprised it cost $540,000 for 350 cameras. Not "military toilet seat" surprised, but it still seems a little steep.

    • Rick C says:

      Well, hopefully these are hardened, like the Panasonic Toughbooks, for example. That would dramatically increase the price. Nonetheless, $1500 each does sound a bit pricey. Perhaps it includes training, spares, repairs, etc.

      • pavel_lishin says:

        There's probably a maintenance contract attached to that.

      • Also, the installation cost of power, networking, mounting hardware, the APs or switches on the other end, the software to manage cameras, the storage to keep recordings at x resolution for y days... $1500 is almost a steal.

    • Scott says:

      They cost $900 outright now, but it's possible the price has dropped in the last year since they bought them. Product Page

    • vacri says:

      My company makes specialist cameras and they're about two-thirds that price. The actual physical camera itself is an off-the-shelf part, but the housing and electronics are custom and tie into our custom system. We don't sell a high volume and our gear is specialist simply because the units shipped are low, not because it's a bells-and-whistles camera (hell, max res is only 640x480, but it's due to UHF telemetry restrictions). $1500/unit for a specialist thingy that ties into a system plus a little cream is understandable - still a bit high, I reckon, but understandable.