Soon, a new set of eyes will keep watch over the relationship between Oakland residents and the Police Department.
By the end of the year,Oakland police will start wearing uniform-mounted cameras, capturing their interactions with the public and details at crime scenes. About the size of a cellphone, the devices may go a long way toward resolving complaints about misconduct and could even be used to gather material for training programs.
It's going to cost more than a half million dollars for the system, which includes 350 cameras. Currently, only 15 are being tested out in the field. That money was originally set aside for a surveillance system inside vehicles, but it never really worked properly and the company that provided the equipment eventually went out of business. Way to pick 'em, Oakland.
Once recorded, video footage cannot be deleted. Officers won't be required to inform people that they are being recorded, as there is no expectation of privacy in public. That will raise some privacy concerns, particularly when it comes to public records requests. Will anyone be able to ask for the footage from any police activity? It's a question that will need to be answered soon.
The uniform-mounted cameras will join Oakland's extensive network of red-light cameras, which have a spotty reputation when it comes to reducing accidents. Hopefully, Oakland will get better results by perching Big Brother on every cop's shoulder.