Amid demands for more transparency after George Floyd’s killing, police departments are experimenting with a new way of capturing potentially deadly moments: putting small cameras on their guns, reports Reuters. The police department in King City, Ca., last month became the state’s first force to mandate cameras on all its officers’ handguns. “With (the) public’s responses to officer-involved shootings, I really felt it was important to have that perspective of what the officer most likely can see and the best point of view to see that from is the barrel of the handgun,” said Police Chief Robert Masterson. The cameras, about the size of a thumb, are mounted along a rail on the bottom of a firearm’s barrel and automatically record when the gun is drawn from the holster.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics says that as of 2016, almost half of U.S. law enforcement agencies had body-worn cameras. The use of gun-mounted cameras is far less common and the numbers less known. Minnesota-based Viridian Weapon Technologies, said more than 500 agencies across 47 states are in stages of testing or implementing its gun-camera system, which is aimed at supplementing images from police body cameras. The gun camera was used in Texas this year to prosecute a suspect who became involved in a shootout with an officer in 2019. Video from the body camera showed the officer’s arms in front holding the gun, whereas video from the gun camera showed the pistol’s point-of-view. The gun camera would not be useful in cases of alleged police brutality where a gun is not drawn. Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union warned that there were limitations to the technology.