"We want police to be ready for the tidal wave of information in the digital age. Every cell phone has a camera and there are four people standing around with a cam, and now officers are saying maybe I should have my own," said Taser CEO Rick Smith. "The breakthrough is: What do you do with all this data? ... From the moment the file is on the device, we take a digital fingerprint and we can match that file to see if anything has changed. It is stronger than DNA technology that is accepted in the courts."
Studies are beginning to trickle in about the impact of the Axon. A study by the Rialto California Police Department found that, after a year of its force using them, overall complaints of police brutality plummeted 88 percent, and use of force dropped 60 percent.
"This is the answer to the Rodney King video, 20 years later," said Scott Greenwood, chief counsel of the ACLU. "It's the next big thing. ... The officers who don't want to use one should be the first one to get them. In the vast majority of cases, officers are doing what we expect them to do. For those few times when officers commit misconduct or do something unconstitutional or illegal, we will have that evidence."
The unusual partnership between law enforcement and the ACLU is not surprising, said Greenwood, who believes that in 10 years the cameras will be as ubiquitous as handcuffs.
"Technology is neutral and, with good policy, you are going to see accountability go up," he said. "It will make policing much more transparent. It will make officers behave better and it will put people on their best behavior."
Greenwood and the ACLU are pushing law enforcement agencies to adopt a set of recording protocols that each officer must follow when using the devices. He said he sees a potential danger in giving officers the ability to use the cameras however they choose. Right now, most officers can choose what to record and when.
For now, York said, he plans on recording every call he is involved with. At the end of his shift, he went home knowing that every police interaction he was involved in that day can be viewed and reviewed. And he is perfectly fine with that.