In policing equipment, a body camera or wearable camera, also known as body-worn video (BWV), body-worn camera (BWC), or body cam, is a wearable audio, video, or photographic recording system used by police to record events in which law enforcement officers are involved, from the perspective of the officer wearing it. They are typically worn on the torso of the body, pinned on the officer's uniform. Police body cameras are often similar to body cameras used by civilians, firefighters, or the military, but are designed to address specific requirements related to law enforcement. Body cameras were first worn by police in the United Kingdom in 2005, and have since been adopted by numerous police departments and forces worldwide.
Body cameras are used by law enforcement to record their interactions with the public, or gather video evidence at crime scenes.Current body cameras are much lighter and smaller than the first experiments with wearable cameras as early as the late 1990s. There are several types of body cameras made by different manufacturers. Each camera basically serves the same purpose, yet some function in slightly different ways than others or have to be worn in a specific way. Some are meant to be mounted on the chest or shoulder, while others are attached to glasses or may be worn in a function similar to a headband or on a helmet.
The various needs and budgets of police departments have led to a wide range of body camera equipment to be offered in recent years. Body camera manufacturers have constantly looked for technical innovations to improve their products. Many body cameras offer specific features like HD quality, infrared, night vision. Other features specific to law enforcement are implemented in the hardware to integrate the body cameras with other devices or wearables. Another example are automatic triggers that start the recording when the officer starts a specific procedure, for instance when a fire-arm or taser is pulled from a holster, when a siren is activated or when the car door opens.
Another important feature in law-enforcement is buffering: the option to let a body camera 'pre-record'. The body cam can record continuously and store the most recent for instance thirty seconds. If the officer presses the record-switch, the preceding thirty seconds of recording will be kept. If he does not, the recording will be deleted after thirty seconds have passed on a 'first in, first out' basis. The ability to buffer enables officers to retain video of everything that occurred prior to the moment the record switch was pressed. This buffered video and audio may provide more context to an incident.
Another very useful feature that is included when using body cameras is how long they are able to record for, body cameras are able to record for up to 10 hours. This is a very important feature because if a law enforcement officer turns on their body camera at the beginning of their shift and forgets to turn it off, they are able to still get all of the footage for the whole shift since the body camera will record their whole shift without any problems.
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