In recent years, as officer-involved shootings have dominated news headlines, more and more law-enforcement departments are implementing weapon-mounted cameras…which, as we’re learning, have advantages over both body and dash cams. Case in point: Recently, the Vernon, Texas police department had occasion to bless their foresight for installing Viridian FACT Duty Weapon-Mounted Cameras (WMC) on their officers’ guns. Footage from the WMCs proved that officers behaved appropriately when they drew their guns on a suspect who was attempting to run them down in a vehicle…which was good, because neither their body cams nor their dash cam captured the incident. Could this be the next step in improving police/community relations?
Well, as we know, part of the reason that officer-involved shootings can suddenly explode into civil unrest is a critical lack of information very early on after the incident. Being able to prove that law enforcement acted in good faith with the information available to them at the time (or, on the contrary, to address a critical failure in discipline) is vital to community relations. Here’s the problem that weapon-mounted cameras address: Body and dash cameras are not designed to capture officer-involved shootings. However, Viridian WMCs were designed specifically for this purpose, offering an unobstructed view of critical use-of-force events from the end of the firearm.
That Vernon, Texas criminal case to which I alluded earlier appears to have been the first time a Viridian FACT Duty WMC’s video has been used as evidence. Gun camera footage from the incident showed the suspect attempting to run over two officers approaching his vehicle. According to the report, neither officer had an opportunity to activate their body cameras, and their prowler’s dash camera had malfunctioned. The Viridian WMC, with its INSTANT-ON technology, began recording automatically when the officer’s weapon was drawn. This video was ultimately key to the prosecution’s case. (The full story is available here.)
“The Vernon Police Department’s deployment of the WMC is not only the first in the state of Texas, but this is the first reported case where footage from the device was used to convict a suspect,” said Viridian President and CEO Brian Hedeen. “Vernon’s deployment of the WMC and this recent case prove how valuable the gun cam is in providing a truly unique, unobstructed perspective—one that did not exist before it was in the field.”
All WMCs fit on existing standard-issue firearms and in multiple duty holster platforms, making it easy for implementation by any law enforcement agency. The cameras feature a recording time of over three hours to handle virtually any scenario. They also incorporate secured data access and are easily rechargeable. In addition to Vernon’s deployment, there are more than 50 other departments in Texas currently in various stages of testing and implementing the FACT Duty WMC. Nationally there are nearly 600 agencies looking at this new technology.
More information on FACT Duty WMCs can be found at ViridianWeaponTech.com/FACT-Duty-Learn-More.
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