With the massive increase in the general public's use of cellphone cameras for capturing Police interactions, Body Worn Cameras (BWC) for Police are starting to balance the equation and provide a very different perspective. This could easily become a Police Officers new best friend!
The quality and functionality on the current generation of BWC devices are really starting to meet the needs of Law Enforcement, however, I still think there is a little way to go. There are some issues that the manufacturers of these devices need to address, as well as State or Local legal hurdles that need to be overcome. For instance, there are several States that prohibit the audio recording unless both parties consent.
One of the biggest issues that I see is that there is no common standard when it comes to capturing, storing and transmitting the data associated with the video/audio. This is an issue that is bigger than any individual Police agency or device manufacturer, and really needs to be addressed as a public-private partnership. It is so crucially important as one of the main reasons that BWC hold so much potential is the ability to be used in Court to increase conviction rates. If there isn't a common standard that is adhered to, it leaves the door open to multiple individual standards and no cross compatibility. Defense attorneys could then target the system as a weak link in the process.
There are also procedural issues associated with the chain of custody of the evidence. It is unreasonable to expect an officer to get back from their shift, dock the device and start a lengthy upload process to a cloud hosted server. During this upload, the officer is not allowed to leave or let anyone else supervise and they could be forced into overtime. This can be very expensive for an Agency to support and it is an issue that would need to be addressed for long term viability.
Manufacturers also need to address the fine balance between quality of video/audio recording (resolution and frame rate), size of recording (which has an impact on transmission and storage costs),weight and battery life of the device and coping with low light levels. This balance of features is needed because a dead battery is as useless to the officer as low quality is to the Court for evidence.
With all that said, I am very excited with where body worn cameras are today, but even more excited to see where they will go tomorrow!