Yesterday, President Obama announced that $263 million would be set aside by executive order for police equipment and training. The training would be in the use of military-grade hardware many departments have received in recent years from the Department of Homeland Security, and the equipment is specifically 50,000 body cameras. Additional funds are to be set aside for outreach programs in communities where police have a particularly bad name, like Ferguson, Missouri, where a grand jury recently said no to indicting officer Darren Wilson in the unprovoked killing of an unarmed eighteen-year-old black man.
Body Cameras Already in Wide Use
Shortly after the incident, police in Ferguson were issued body cameras.
Another case with a lot more potential for outrage happened more recently in Cleveland, however, when twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by two officers who said he was threatening them with a gun when they shot him but then video surfaced which contradicted their story. Had these officers been wearing body cameras, there’d be no doubt about whether the boy was armed or not when the shots were fired. Police are supposed to enforce the law, but in many jurisdictions in the past three decades, we have witnessed police flagrantly breaking the law, as well as the procedure.
Body Cameras for All Police
Body cameras on every officer nationwide – which this allocation does not provide for, since there are around 750,000 police nationwide and this program is only paying for 50,000 cameras – would provide a level of unaccountability never seen before. Good police who interact positively with citizens will benefit and their promotions can be expedited because they’ll now have hours and hours of video to point to as evidence of their good nature. Bad police who act like bullies and think they’re at war with citizens will have to think twice before doing something socially unacceptable.
On a related note, Utah-based Contour Action Cameras, which could wind up providing some of the aforementioned 50,000 cameras, recently announced that it will be using BitPay to accept Bitcoin as payment going forward.
“Contour is all about looking into the future, and seeing where technology will allow us to go. We love Bitcoin, as they are doing the same in the field of online payments […] For almost a decade, Contour has innovated in action cameras on features, design, and usability. Bitcoin is an obvious choice for companies to stay relevant in the future.” – James Harrison, CEO of Contour Action Cameras
Contour produces three camera models starting around $150, which is more than affordable for most police departments, and a minimal investment considering the benefits.
For good police this will mean an easy way to disassociate themselves from the activities of bad police, while for bad police and communities who have to deal with them it will mean an easily accessible pool of evidence. Administering the law and public accountability will both mean entirely new things thanks to this innovation, and companies like Contour will be gratified at seeing the new orders flow in, and seeing these companies make more money means they’ll stay around and keep accepting Bitcoin, which is good for the currency, good for the economy, and good for all of us.
What do you think? Will it make you feel better to see your local police wearing body cameras the next time they pull you over? Comment below!
Images from Contour Action Cameras and Shutterstock.