New High-Priced Police Body Cams Can Livestream and Detect Gunshots

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on October 09, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Axon, the company formerly knows as Taser, has recently announced its latest body cam, known as Axon Body 3. Set to launch in late 2019 at a price of $699 each, almost double the price of the Axon Body 2, new features include livestreaming, wireless uploads, low-light video capture, transcription, and license scanning. The wireless aspect of the device was created through a strategic partnership with AT&T's FirstNet and Verizon.

New Features Intended to Build Collaborative Safety

Axon claims that these new features will help build a more collaborative safety offering, for both the officer and the community. Gunshot detection triggers the body cam to turn on as soon the gunshot is audible, thereby eliminating any officer from inadvertently forgetting to turn it on when a crime scene gets active. Since video footage can be livestreamed, remote command staff can survey the footage captured and relay important information to the officer on the scene, helping to improve officer safety and efficiency. In the past, video footage captured could only be viewed once the camera was brought back to the station, docked, and data downloaded.

Regarding other new features, low-light capture can help protect the accuracy of the situation by providing better video clarity, vital to both the officer and the suspect. The transcription and license scanning technology will help alleviate the administrative burdens of the officers, and instead allow officers to focus more time and energy serving the community.

Huge Expense for Police Departments

Police departments are looking to spend big money on these body cams. Although nearly $700 per body cam may seem expensive, Axon uses a razor-and-blade revenue model, resulting in high monthly storage fees for backend cloud storage systems, often as high as $50 to $100 per month per officer. Police departments should make sure that this is a great investment, since consumer watchdogs are eyeing these expenditures, trying to analyze if the costs are justified, especially in light of the lawsuits that come with them.

Civil Rights Issues With Body Cams

Most body cam lawsuits involve civil rights issues. Police departments allow officers to watch footage before writing up their reports or giving statements. Such unrestricted footage review is seen as a violation of a suspect's rights, since watching the footage may alter what an officer believes was seen, and therefore written, in a report. By repeatedly watching the videotape, an officer could have a drastically different response to what actions would be reasonable given the benefit of unlimited replay, as opposed to determining what is reasonable in a live situation. This is called "the illusion of accuracy," and any sports fans can relate, similar to instant reply.

If you or someone you love has been arrested based on body cam footage, and you believe the officer's response in the situation may not have been reasonable, contact a criminal defense attorney. A trained legal adviser can best analyze the situation, and determine if there is any possibility of excluding evidence or perhaps even proposing excessive force by the arresting officer.

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