Dashboard cameras have become commonplace for police officers to record what happens during traffic stops, but some departments around the country are taking the idea a step further -- cop-cams. A police department in Rialto, California is the latest to use cameras that are attached to an officer's body or uniform to monitor all activity while they are on-duty. Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, calls them body-cams. "The officer can turn on the body-cam that actually records video and audio of the encounter that you're having with a citizen," he tells KTRH. Use of these cameras has even garnered the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which endorsed them as a way to "serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers."
Hunt says that most officers are generally on board with the idea of these cameras. "As long as our privacy is protected, officers are not fearful of accurately recording what's taking place in their day-to-day operations." In fact, he thinks the cop-cams might actually serve to protect officers. "You're going to have less people complaining on the police because they're going to know that information was recorded, and if they're not being completely truthful then they're not going to go and complain," says Hunt. Nevertheless, officers do have some concerns about the cameras. "Forgetting to turn the camera on," says Hunt. "Or when you get into a scuffle you're not going to be able to see it (clearly)." And perhaps the biggest issue--privacy. "We're concerned about private conversations you might be having with your spouse on the telephone being recorded," says Hunt.
The Houston Police Department confirms to KTRH that they are in the exploratory phase of using such cameras, but they declined to comment further. Hunt, however, expects to see them in use by Houston cops in the near future. "It's something that's coming, the technology is there, and I believe it's just a matter of time," he says.