In My Own Words: Doing More with Nothing

Aug. 19, 2015

Video and law enforcement: during the last 24 months it has emerged as an uneasy relationship at best, and at its worst, a screaming indictment of policing gone bad according to some in the general public. From the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to the death of Eric Gardner in New York City from a police chokehold, and that of Freddie Gray while in the custody of Baltimore police, bits and pieces of mobile phone video captured by civilian passersby have provided incriminating evidence against police.

For many law enforcement officials around the country, such encounters and their subsequent volatile public reactions backlash could have been reduced or even avoided entirely if body-worn video camera technology had been employed. In a public safety environment when law enforcement and first responders are constantly being told to do more with less – and in some cases nothing – this could serve both as a force multiplier and enforcement validation tool.

Experts say that those departments implementing body-worn cameras over the past several years have seen a substantial reduction in the use of officer force, along with a reduced number of citizen complaints against officers. Statistics also highlight that when prosecutors are able to show defense attorneys video evidence of their client’s criminal activities, the number of guilty pleas and plea bargaining agreements increase.

Once an agency has done its homework researching the ramifications and benefits of adopting body-worn camera technology, there are no shortage of products on the market to choose from and potential funding to purchase them. In fact, the Department of Justice recently announced the establishment of a $20 million Body-Worn Camera (BWC) Pilot Partnership Program to respond the immediate needs of local and tribal law enforcement agencies. Included in the investment program are $17 million in competitive grants for purchasing body-worn cameras, another $2 million for training and technical assistance and $1 million for the development of metric and evaluation tools to create a baseline of best practices.

For body-worn camera manufacturers, recent national headlines have fueled the debate for the technology and have helped fast-track government interest in creating additional funding for it.

“We see widespread adoption of body worn cameras in the next five to 10 years, especially now that public opinion is shifting, federal grant money is opening up, and more agencies are recognizing the value BWC bring,” says VieVu Products CEO Steve Ward, whose company provides a total solutions approach to BWC.  “In order for this to work, we believe cloud storage will also become mainstream in law enforcement (as it already is in the civilian market). Body cameras collect a lot of footage, and this means the need for a lot of storage.”

Rick Smith, President and CEO of Taser International has also seen tangible evidence of the increased interest for body-worn cameras in the public safety sector. He reveals that the sales bookings for the company’s Axon body camera business unit were up by more than 250 percent last quarter compared to this same time last year.

“As of today, 24 of the 65 major cities are deploying our body cameras or our other digital evidence systems, and another 28 are in some form of field trial.  We have seen a sea change over the past year.  The vast majority of police executives are saying they see body cameras as standard issue police equipment within the next three to five years,” Smith says, echoing fellow vendors. “The data is showing that body cameras actually save far more money than they cost -- yielding a net budget surplus in year one.” 

I personally invite all our readers to join this discussion at Secured Cities Houston 2015 on November 10-12. Both Steve and Rick will be joining Lt. Sam Hood of Baltimore PD’s Citiwatch program and moderator Lynn Mattice will team for a rousing panel discussion on this topic. Go to and click on the Conference tab to read more about their presentation. This will be one of 40-plus learning sessions at the event, along with four exciting on-site security tours ranging from the NASA Space Center behind-the-scenes security tour to trips to both the City of Houston and Harris County Emergency Management Centers.

Please feel free to contact me for more information about either attending or sponsoring. See you in Houston!

About the Author

Steve Lasky | Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief/Security Technology Executive

Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes the magazine's Security Technology Executive, Security Business, and Locksmith Ledger International, and the top-rated website He is also the host of the SecurityDNA podcast series.Steve can be reached at [email protected]