BART cops get shirt-pocket snitch-cams

San Francisco BART police are going to start wearing video cameras that record their interactions with the public (transit cops in SF have committed some controversial high-profile shootings lately). The cameras are tamper-"proof" (in practice, more like "tamper-resistant," I'm sure) but officers have to manually activate the cameras to make them work.

I'm guessing that even honest cops will forget to turn on their cameras in most potentially dangerous interactions. After all, danger situations are rare, and things you do infrequently are things you forget to do. And for crooked cops (or cops who make mistakes, or lose their cool), this provides good cover for "forgetting" (rather than merely forgetting) to turn on your snitch. Plus the placement makes it easy to accidentally (or "accidentally") cover up the lens with a pocket-flap, arm, or random moop.

Officers wearing the cameras won't be able to delete or tamper with the videos they shoot - that all has to be done back in the station once the video is downloaded to a computer. The only caveat is that the officer actually has to flip the camera on to begin recording. Seems simple enough, but it could be tricky if an officer suddenly finds himself in the sort of hostile situation that needs to be recorded. "The idea is to make the camera as much as a tool for police as a Taser or radio," CBS explains.

The transit police force had mentioned the possibility of rolling out lapel cams in recent months, but has been slow to make any changes even after weeks of protests. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano recently spoke out about the lack of action on the part of BART's Board of Directors and especially Mark Smith, the independent auditor hired three months ago to review BART PD operations, who has yet to hire any staff

(via JWZ)