In the latter part of 2014, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, made a pledge of approximately $263 million in federal funding for body cameras and police training. The police departments in some cities have taken the initiative seriously and have been thoroughly testing body cameras in their districts.
There has been much speculation about law enforcement officers using body cameras. With a price tag of around $75 million for 50,000 cameras, the public has been eager to see what the footage and therefore the advantages of this initiative are.
That is why Seattle’s police department launched a YouTube channel recently, to store the video footage that their officers gather and make to available for public viewing.
The channel is called SPD BodyWornVideo. It features extremely vague videos that were shot by on-duty police officers. In fact, most of the videos look so bad that I would doubt if experts in videography could decipher what is happening in the footage! Apparently this blurred effect is deliberate and is meant to hide the identities of people that have been captured on the footage.
The Seattle Times newspaper reported that last year, the Seattle police department had recruited a hacker, Timothy Clemans, to generate software which would eliminate sound and edit images from the body camera footage.
According to SPDBlotter, Clemans’ software allowed the department to edit more than four hours of footage in approximately half a day. This is much faster than the old method of editing, which would have taken days of work.
The newspaper has also mentioned the police department is hoping to make the software tools available to other cities at no charge in the future.