San Jose Cops Test Head Cameras
Devices can catch bad behavior and clear those falsely accused
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 29, 2009 8:08 AM CST
Attorney Duyen Nguyen examines a police video in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 26, 2009. San Jose police say four officers present at the beating of an unarmed Vietnamese student have been put on leave.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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(Newser) – Grainy cell phone images are often used against cops accused of using excessive violence, but now cops are shooting a little video of their own with head cameras, the latest technology from stun-gun maker TASER International, the AP reports. "It's like the helmet cam you've seen on X Games," a San Jose police officer says. Eighteen members of San Jose's police force have been trained to use the AXON head cameras as part of a free trial after cops came under fire recently after cell phone video showed officers striking and using a TASER on an unarmed student.

Experts say the cameras could help catch officers behaving badly and clear those falsely accused—as long as they are required to be on during each encounter and not as an officer chooses. "It will also make the officers very aware that their behavior is being documented," says a criminal justice professor. The device, which resembles a Bluetooth earpiece, can be connected to an on-and-off button on the officer's chest, and from there to a video screen on a holster. At the end of an officer's shift, the device is placed in a docking station, where it recharges and downloads. "It'd be nice to show our view and our side of what's going on," the San Jose cop says.