Houston Halts Its Police Body Camera Rollout

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Houston has halted its rollout of cameras worn by police officers, citing concerns over the new technology, reports the Wall Street Journal. Police Chief Art Acevedo said that the nation’s fifth-largest police force is pausing around halfway into its rollout of about 4,500 cameras because of complaints about battery life and a desire to add a feature that would automatically activate the cameras for officers. He said  2,000 cameras already deployed will stay on the streets while the city decides what to do next. Jaime Carlin of the camera company WatchGuard Video, which won the Houston contract, said the batteries work fine when charged properly.

Cities across the U.S. rushed to buy cameras to improve transparency after protests over police shootings in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere. Questions over how contracts were awarded, fighting among camera companies and concerns over the technology have caused delays. Camera company Vievu has sued rival Taser International for allegedly mounting an illicit lobbying campaign that caused Phoenix officials to cancel plans to spend $3.6 million on Vievu cameras even after the company had won the bid. Camera deals in Atlanta and Austin, Tx., have been delayed by lawsuits as well. About 6,000 of the 18,000 law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. use body cameras. Analysts estimate that the market for cameras and the software and data storage that go with them could be worth up to $1 billion a year.

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