Police gun cameras ready to hit the street

Shooting gun

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Shooting gun

New technology could help local police departments show the public what they are doing and why they did it during potentially deadly interactions with suspects. A new video system developed by the Florida-based company, Centinel Solutions, places a camera on the officer's gun, just below the barrel. Max Kramer, creator of the "Gun Shield Camera," said it provides more transparency for departments at a lower cost.

"How will it help the community? It is another tool that is unbiased and holds people accountable," Kramer said.

The tiny pistol-mounted camera begins recording when the weapon is pulled from the officer's special holster. At the same time a signal is sent to the police dispatch center and other officers that the weapon has been drawn by another officer. It comes just as officer-involved shootings are undergoing more scrutiny than ever.

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Skip McGee

Skip McGee

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Skip McGee

Weapons experts say the technology holds promise but also presents complications. Skip McGee, who runs the Mad River Armory and Range in Springfield, said the place where the Gun Shield Camera would go on the officer's weapon is often used to hold a flashlight. Removing that light to make way for the camera , said McGee, would give a lot of officers a problem.

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Lt. Mike Holler of the Enon Police Department was likewise interested in the product but still saw yet another problem. Holler said if the camera only began recording when the weapon came out of the holster, it would miss the minutes leading up to the moment when the officer saw the need to pull their gun out. That, said Holler, could be very important video and audio to document what happened between an officer and a suspect.

The Gun Shield Camera has been in development for about three years and is now undergoing field testing. Kramer calls it "the wave of the future" and said it could work as a stand-alone system or to compliment body cameras worn by officers