Originally posted on WSBTV.com | February 28, 2017
A new device aimed at answering questions surrounding controversial police-involved shootings is about to hit the street. It’s called a gun shield camera and it is designed to show the view point of an officer’s gun.
The small camera fits on the rail under a barrel normally used for flashlights and other devices.
The camera is activated every time it’s pulled out of the holster. It automatically notifies nearby officers and sends a video.
Gun shield camera creator Max Kramer told us the camera could save lives.
Kramer believes the device is the wave of the future, allowing more transparency at a lower cost for police departments when their officers have to pull or fire their weapons.
“It’s another tool that’s unbiased and holds people accountable,” said Kramer.
That is key in a time when officer-involved shootings have become more controversial than ever. Protestors have marched against suspected unjustified shootings and officers have died simply doing their jobs. In Georgia, seven officers died in shootings in 2016 alone.
Kramer gave Channel 2’s Tony Thomas a demonstration at a gun range near his Palm Beach, Florida headquarters. Every time his Glock is pulled from the holster, the camera activates and records exactly where the weapon is pointed. The camera is WIFI and Bluetooth connected and can send its location to commanders and nearby officers, alerting them of the situation.
Phil Berlingo is a current Florida police officer who worked undercover for New York’s subway system for years.
“It would have been nice if someone else knew that we couldn’t get to the radio because we were busy focusing on a certain subject,” said Berlingo.
Kramer said the gun camera will sell for about the same price as the body cameras many police officers wear now. But it will cost less to store the video, since less is recorded.
The camera has been in development for more than three years, mainly due to several revisions requested by skeptical officers.
Many officers say one flaw of the body camera is if they actually have to pull their weapon, their view of what is going on is blocked by the weapon and their hands. The gun camera’s creator said his device would provide a clear view.
Vince Champion is the Southeast Regional Director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. He said the gun camera would not show the key part of a confrontation, what led up to the use of force.
“That’s what we need to know whether it was a justified shooting or not for the officer, before, what got there what started,” said Champion.
Kramer said the shield camera could be used along with a body camera, especially since it automatically starts recording on its own and isn’t as likely to fall off in a struggle.
“I would have never thought it would have came this far,” said Berlingo.
The company, Centinel Solutions, said the gun camera is currently being tested in several undisclosed departments across the country. The company hopes to have it on the street soon.