- On December 5, 2014
I own a wearable civil rights activist, well actually I don’t. I have the poor mans GoPro the MuVi camera. It’s an excellent low cost HD video camera, sold as a police body camera. I put a 32 GB card in it and although the battery life isn’t long enough to last a full 8 hour shift it could easily cover the likely face time I might spend interacting with the public. It also has sound activation, so the moment anything more than silence occurs it kicks on pretty seamlessly. This clever piece of tech costs about $150 retail…including a high capacity card.
There are roughly 450,000 cops in the US (seems like a lot but that what the official numbers are). Let’s assume that at any one time 1/3 of those cops are out and about. By my math we could equip every operational cop in the US with an excellent body cam for a little over 22 million dollars. Since we have apparently already found the money to equip our civilian police force with enough body armor and automatic weapons to arm a major third world dictator (for I’m guessing a lot more than $22MM) there is absolutely no reason not to equip our police with these simple but wildly effective devices.
That it should come to this is sad…and I sympathize with the protesters who claim that if the death by cop of Eric Garner captured on camera couldn’t result in a Grand Jury indictment then putting an electronic muzzle on our out of control police force won’t make a difference. However in the same way that “the spy in the cab” installed in every one of the 16 wheelers on our freeways greatly cut down the crashes caused by truckers driving for thirty hours straight, I firmly believe body cameras will make a significant and immediate difference.
This isn’t a tech problem, it’s not “a black problem” it’s an American problem. We have armed the guys who couldn’t get the grades to go to college with sophisticated weapons, given them impunity and “hero” status. They aren’t, they are, in many cases, blue collar guys with way to much power an institutional disregard for our civil rights and a cultural contempt for certain parts of our society.
We can’t fix the roots of this problem quickly. This problem has been brewing for several decades. We can’t un-ring the bell of a post a Jim Crow culture of separate and not equal and the damage done by the failed ‘war on drugs.’ That harm is done…we can perhaps heal over time…I hope so.
What we can do (for less than one eighth of the cost of a single F16 fighter jet) is bring some measure of wearable accountability to the people who are suppose to protect and serve us all.