Hot on the heels of announcing its plan to buy some 8,000 body cameras from Taser, the Los Angeles Police department has ordered up actual Tasers that automatically record on those Taser cameras when fired. Reuters says that the Department ordered 3,000 of Taser's X26P smart weapon, a model that was announced two years ago, and is designed to work in tandem with Taser's body recorder. When connected by Bluetooth, the camera can store footage while the weapon keeps a log of how it was used, including things like when it was fired, and if the electrical wires made contact. The camera also won't start recording until the weapon's safety is switched off.
"This technology gives a much better picture of what happens in the field."
While smaller in scale than the plan to outfit its entire force with body cameras, the end goal of these newer Tasers remains the same. "This technology gives a much better picture of what happens in the field," a Taser spokesperson told Reuters. That echoes what Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said when introducing the new body camera program last month. "Out on the street, things aren't always clear cut," Garcetti said, adding that he hoped the cameras would "help law enforcement and the public alike find the truth."
But "truth" and its relation to video recordings of police activity has become extremely controversial. The recent deaths of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, separate incidents involving police that were caught on tape, resulted in no indictments for the officers involved. The question remains of whether the technology might have also resulted in a clearer version of what happened in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, about which witnesses have wildly varying opinions. The federal government seems to agree, at least. A $263 million federal funding plan that was announced last month will distribute some 50,000 cameras to various departments, with local state and private funding expected to pad out the rest.