The excessive use of force by police officers continues to fill the news and plague our society. Equipping officers with body and dash cameras has become increasingly important to increase transparency within the community and to help keep police officers accountable for their actions. But is that enough? Could cameras on firearms be the next best option for ensuring that we are getting all the evidence of police officers use of force?
This past Tuesday, Centinel Solutions announced further enhancements to its patent-pending Shield™ firearm mounted camera. We had the opportunity to speak with Centinel Solutions CEO, Max Kramer, about the companies’ latest developments.
What is Centinel Solutions?
The company has been in existence since 2014, when body worn cameras were just being talked about. We have always remained true to what we’ve developed which is a very simple accountability measure and evidentiary correction point for escalation and use of force.
Can you explain your new development and a little more about the Shield Camera?
This week, we announced an update to our Shield App, which provides law enforcement with complete situational awareness to sync with body cameras, in-car video systems, mobile video applications, and other intelligent devices that work together to deliver the best possible perspective and evidentiary value.
The Shield Camera is the only commercially available end-to-end solution that provides law enforcement agencies an unobstructed first-person point of view every time an officer draws their weapon. What’s more, this solution activates automatically upon removal of a weapon from the holster, ensuring that recording starts at the most critical moment and automatically signaling a potential use of force via the network, while also limiting extraneous or unnecessary recordings that may impinge on community privacy or needlessly drive up storage costs.
There’s a camera on the firearm. When the firearm is drawn the camera goes on automatically. You don’t need to activate it. There is a record of it being drawn, which is tied to a specific profile of an officer.
The notion that there is a one size fits all approach to Communities and Law Enforcement is false. Every community is different. Every Law Enforcement Agency acts different. This is just another tool with the minimal amount of failure points, which addresses something that we are all concerned about.
How do you combat the opportunity for manipulation?
The data is stored on a cloud. We use Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud which is built for government agencies using the cloud for sensitive data and regulated workloads. We have to abide by certain requirements that the department of justice prescribes. But before it gets to the cloud, the data’s stored on the device locally. It can’t be removed. You can’t delete the file.
In terms of safe guarding the evidence, that’s important for every investigation. By supplementing available evidence with a first-person perspective and advanced recording and storage capabilities, the Shield Camera provides unobstructed video of the perceived threat during an incident for law enforcement officers, local communities and the criminal justice system. When creating this system, we wanted to ensure whenever a firearm is drawn, there is not only a video, but an accompanying data trail to help manage standards and expectation.
So this is really the best case scenario in terms of recording relevant information when the weapon is fired?
Correct. Beyond just the video aspect, what’s unique about this is the evidence of when, why and where use of force is being escalated. I think that’s a very important question. Why is it that there’s a trend that officers on this shift are drawing their weapons more than another shift? If you have a system like this in place, you can remediate that through training. You can see if there’s an issue and you can deal with it. You can also show the community your perspective of what’s happening. The community can talk about their perspective because its all on tape.
It’s a trend now, since 2015, every time a weapon is pointed at someone you have to call a supervisor and fill out a use of force report. It’s a very long process. It’s not centralized and its done by hand. So we have created a platform where its all overlaid through our system. You can drill into it as much as you want and its all very pertinent actionable atmospherics people should be looking into.
I would wager that the current use force reporting is lower than what’s actually happening out there. So the reality is you have a system like this to know what’s happening, where it’s happening and why it’s happening.