The Williams Police Department is mounting cameras to their firearms in an extra step to make sure their uses of force are monitored.
The department already has body cameras for their officers, but didn’t feel the body cameras were necessarily dependable to capture crucial information in the moment of a shooting, explained Darrell Hixson, Williams Police Department lieutenant. The technology costs $500 per system and includes a flashlight, microphone and camera that attaches to the rail beneath weapon muzzles.
Hixson felt the technology would ensure the critical moment of a drawn firearm or shooting is recorded in its entirety. While he believes in the officers on his force, Hixson acknowledged that nationally, officers have made mistakes.
“If we make a mistake, let’s stand up and own it,” Hixson said. “But if we don’t, why should we take all the pressure from all different walks of life — family, friends, media and the department?”
The Veridian Weapon Technology tool uses magnets in the holster to turn on the camera when it is drawn from its holster, and turn off the camera when it is holstered. Hixson said the footage cannot be edited while in the gun, and is uploaded to a secure server that lower-level officers cannot access.
The camera mount is lightweight and doesn’t weigh much more than their normal flashlight attachment, which is included in the Veridian’s weapon mount. It also has a microphone to record the audio of the incidents it gathers.
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Hixson said the move was not in response to any shooting in Williams, but was rather in response to the quality of video they’ve been able to capture with their current body cameras. He explained that when they review videos of firearm-involved incidents, the body camera could be pointed away from the action if they’re in cover or at their raised arm.
Hixson’s explanation was part of the vision Veridian’s CEO Brian Heeden had when creating the camera mount.
“The weapon-mounted camera is the only tool designed to capture what we feel is the most important event, an officer-involved shooting or a use of force incident with a firearm. If an officer has his weapon out, that is a use of force even if he doesn’t fire it,” Hedeen said.
Veridian’s technology was developed and released to the marketplace in January and is currently being reviewed by over 400 police agencies, according to Hedeen.
Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has no plans to adopt the technology, according to Rex Gilliland, operations commander at the sheriff’s office.
“The simple answer is no. We haven’t even contemplated or thought about it,” Gilliland said. “We just spent a substantial amount of money to outfit everybody on the body worn camera. They’ve been invaluable to look at incidents.”