Taser's Axon Flex wearable camera and others like it have been deployed in a number of departments.
Will your next encounter with a police officer in New York City be captured by an official department-issue Google Glass headset? It's a possibility: The NYPD has a couple units and is giving them a thorough evaluation.
The news was first reported at VentureBeat earlier this week. Confirming the reports, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis explained in a statement that the department has been checking out Google's wearable computer for a couple months now:
"In December of 2013 the Department obtained two pairs of Google Glass and has been evaluating these devices in an attempt to determine any possible useful applications. The devices have not been deployed in any actual field or patrol operations, but rather are being assessed as to how they may be appropriately utilized or incorporated into any existing technology-based functions."
This is far from the first such technology to make its way into police hands; departments around the country have been experimenting with wearable cameras like the Taser model shown above, some with great success.
However, despite endorsement from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the NYPD hasn't adopted officer cams and has no plans to. One union representing NYPD officers even came out publicly against such devices, calling them burdensome and expensive.
This historical reticence toward wearable cameras is what makes this spontaneous act of interest interesting: Could the NYPD, the nation's largest police force, actually be considering using Glass in the field? Realistically, probably not, at least for the present: at current costs, it would take millions of dollars to outfit officers with Glass units, and then there's the question of establishing policies, legislation, workflows for evidence, and so on.
It's also a fair bet that the country's largest police force is, at any given moment, trying out a number of new gadgets and technologies, from improved pepper spray to facial recognition software — so nabbing a couple of the hottest new Google devices isn't so far out of character.
So while it's unlikely you'll hear "OK Glass, record a video" before "you have the right to remain silent" for some time, this does show that even the skeptical NYPD is at least looking into the idea.
First published February 7 2014, 5:25 PM