Well, this is one way to get a job.
The Stranger reports the Seattle Police Department has hired the once-anonymous coder who requested all the video footage from its pilot body-cam program. The self-taught programmer, Tim Clemans, will begin work for the Seattle PD on May 6 for a three-month trial basis.
How did Clemans get this job? He was requesting “virtually all of SPD’s electronic data,” according to the Stranger, and uploading it to a YouTube channel. Chief operating officer Mike Wagers is one of the SPD employees responsible for bringing Clemans on, pointing out, “Tim possesses a talent that we don’t have internally. I get contacted almost daily by police agencies within Washington and across the nation asking about his program and our YouTube site.”
Clemans’ job will involve managing SPD’s YouTube channel. When it was launched in February, Wagers said it “demonstrates that we are committed to working with local tech talent to transform the Seattle Police Department into a national leader when it comes to its use of technology.”
Wagers recently spoke with NPR about the SPD’s body-cam program, saying, “We have dash cams in all of our cars. That has produced over 360 terabytes of data. We were storing that … and the hacker came along — I mean, this anonymous requester — and wanted every piece of that video data — all 360-plus terabytes. And that really just blew everybody’s mind.”
The SPD is testing 12 body cameras with plans to outfit 900 patrol officers in 2016, Wagers explained to the New York Times in an article that also illustrates the downsides of putting everything online. Bremerton police chief Steven Strachan told the Times that it would create administrative burdens his small office could not handle as well as potential privacy violations.
It’s a bold move by a police department toward transparency in this digital age, where increased footage of police brutality is sparking controversy and riots across the country.