Police departments in New York City and Los Angeles are already testing out body-worn cameras. Now, officers in Seattle will soon do the same.
Mike Wagers, chief operating officer with the Seattle Police Department, told GeekWire today that 12 officers will begin testing the cameras as part of a pilot program the “very near future.”
“The Mayor and Police Chief are committed to getting body-worn cameras out in the field,” he said.
The SPD is meeting with various legal experts in the coming weeks to iron out details related to privacy. The department actually wanted to launch the pilot program earlier this year, but delayed it back in May due to concerns with a Washington state law that prohibits recording conversations in a private residence without permission, expect for emergency responders.
Another privacy issue revolves around how to handle the recorded video from the body-worn cameras. The vision is to eventually upload footage to the Internet that would be accessible to the public, but the SPD wants to figure out how exactly it could efficiently redact or blur out images that shouldn’t be available to anyone based on existing laws.
“We want to be transparent, but also make sure we adhere to the public disclosure laws in the State of Washington,” Wagers said.
Wagers added that the cameras would be tested throughout the department, meaning that it could be bike, foot, and/or traffic officers involved in the pilot program.
Several police departments have already implemented the use of body-worn cameras made by companies like Seattle-based Vievu, while the Obama administration recently noted its support for the devices. On our GeekWire radio show, we recently discussed police using the new technology with Evidence.com General Manager Marcus Womack, who explained how his company’s cloud-based system and body cameras create accountability for interactions between police officers and citizens.