Modesto cops are armed with more than a weapon and set of cuffs, most are walking around with tiny cameras and recording devices on their uniforms.
The Department lost its dashcam video system last year when the company that serviced it went out of business. They are now testing a handful of new products that are about the size of a cell phone.
There is the Vie Vu, the Vid Mic and the Taser model, called the Taser Axon. The Vie Vu opens and turns on with a touch of a button. The Vid Mic is a camera installed in a traditional two-way radio handset. The Taser Axon doesn't tase anyone, but it does hold 30 hours of video with a 12-hour battery life. The computer part of the device about the size of a Blackberry, and the camera is the size of a wireless headset.
Officer Chris Adams is one of the officers who is testing the three models. He says all of the models get high marks for different things; like, size, convenience, and capacity. He says any of the three are an improvement on the existing state of affairs.
"A lot of times what you see (on television) is a cell phone video camera out there and they're only capturing a small portion of what happened and often it's the end portion of what happened,” said Adams.
The department has a display of technological advances since the ‘60's. These new “toys” are the latest, and perhaps the first that might actually prevent an officer from getting killed. Adams shows how the Tazer camera unclips from his lapel, and bends around a corner so he can "...look at my screen and see what I'm looking at."
The Tazer costs about $3,200, the other models are between $800 and $1,000. But, the cheaper versions don't come with a server to hold the video. Those servers cost between $18,000 and $40,000 according to Officer Adams. Even with the server cost, the department could still buy more of those cameras than they could if they got the Tazer model. Adams says the department doesn't know which way it will go at this time.
The Modesto Police Department has $125,000 to spend on the new system. They plan to make a decision within a couple of months.
Regardless, the technology could have helped solve at least one murder case that is still unresolved. Sacramento Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Mitchell was shot and killed with his own gun in October of 2006 after a traffic stop. His last radio contact with dispatch said he was approaching a white van with no license plates. If he had any sort of recording device, there would be more clues about who he had pulled over.
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