But the camera system, called Axon, is one way to defuse the controversies. Taser already has some 55,000 minicameras mounted on Tasers. But the camera is only triggered when the gun is drawn. It could do the same for police shootings. The video, however, would not capture the events leading up to that point and provides no context that might justify the weapon’s use.
“One big reason to have these is defensive,” Mr. Smith said. “Police spend $2 billion to $2.5 billion a year paying off complaints about brutality. Plus, people plead out when there is video.” Sergeant Davis says Mr. Berry’s widow later claimed her husband was holding a cellphone, not a gun, but the video exonerated the officer.
In Taser’s cloud evidence system, which resides on Amazon.com’s cloud storage service, the videos can be tagged and labeled for record-keeping. The software has editing capabilities to protect the identities of some people captured on the video, like victims of child sex crimes or undercover officers. The video cannot be deleted while in the camera, though an officer can choose when to turn his camera on and off, something Mr. Smith does not think will happen often during confrontations because the videos could help clear law-abiding officers.
“When people know they are on camera, they act like better citizens,” said Hadi Partovi, an Internet entrepreneur who is on Taser’s board.
That goes for law enforcement officers, too, said Mr. Smith. “We have more cameras on cops than anyone else.”