A solution for police officers searching for more accessible and inexpensive body cameras may have been in their pockets all along, says USA Today. The Jersey City Police Department is the first in the nation to test a new smartphone app called CopCast that allows officers to turn everyday cellphones into body cameras. After months of testing the system with 10 officers, the department is expected to sign an agreement this week to expand the technology to as many as 250 officers. As the U.S. is continuing to grapple with officer-involved shootings, the new technology may allow more departments to afford body cameras that provide a fuller picture of violent encounters.
The new system works like this: Officers download the CopCast app on a smartphone, and supervisors download a desktop version. Officers can strap the phone onto their chest and hit a button to start recording audio and video, which can be streamed live by supervisors monitoring from headquarters and show the exact location of the officer using GPS technology. The officer hits another button to end the stream, and the entire encounter is automatically saved on a server. Many body cameras on the market now require officers to download all their video at the end of their shift, meaning the video must then be reviewed and organized before supervisors can look over any footage.