I said this half-jokingly earlier today that if I were Google, I would be giving hundreds of Google Glasses away in Ferguson right now. But honestly, it should be done. Right now. To everyone that lives in an area where there is a breakdown in community and police department trust.
As much as people are concerned about their privacy rights and the potential for abuse of Google Glass the situation in Ferguson, MO leaves no doubt in my mind that the ability to quickly and easily, record and upload video is a necessity. This is the clearest example of when it is beneficial to have a hands-free way to record events as quickly as possible. We are getting a lot of accounts of the protests, but nothing about the incident itself. Imagine if the officer was forced to wear a camera while on patrol. Imagine if Mike Brown had Google Glass up and running when the officer stopped him and began questioning his right to exist.
It's one thing to be able to get a camera out of a pocket or purse and get an "aftermath" video or picture of an incident (apparently there is a video of the Mike Brown incident but only after the policeman fired and killed Mike Brown), it's another thing entirely to be able to start recording before the encounter takes place without losing any mobility.
Theses "He Said, He Said" encounters leave far too much ambiguity. Justice can often be thwarted because of a subjective determination on the trustworthiness of the source. A subjective determination too often filled with biases. The reality of police officers in Ferguson harassing media outlets, closing off the city, and arresting (possibly tear gassing) journalists makes the need for steady reliable information from citizens an absolute requirement. And they've delivered as best they can, but an army of Google Glass could do better. The few live streams we've had of the incidents continue to go dark and 8 second vine videos do little to provide the context necessary to fully understand what is happening. We see tear gas canisters littering the streets and hear police over megaphones, but we never see the first canister thrown. We rarely see the moment police decide to confront the crowds. When the Rules of Engagement are triggered.
And this works both ways. Police officers often cite the difficulty of working in some neighborhoods where community trust in law enforcement has eroded beyond repair. If (as is doubtful in the Mike Brown case) the officer acts with appropriate force resulting in the death of a citizen, then the police officer wearing Google Glass can help his and his department's case greatly.
That's the reason the Rialto, California police department began issuing video cameras to police officers back in 2013. Think of all the benefits to law enforcement that the cop-car dash cam has provided. Add to that police foot chases and stop and frisk scenarios. I would say the benefit for both citizens and police officers are served when the reality of a situation is known. And it works.
THE Rialto study began in February 2012 and will run until this July . The results from the first 12 months are striking. Even with only half of the 54 uniformed patrol officers wearing cameras at any given time, the department over all had an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints filed against officers, compared with the 12 months before the study, to 3 from 24.
The only problem I see with police being the only ones to wear these cameras is that the department is in charge of who gets to see the video footage with all the possible problems that entails.
Secretly, I hope for a future where Nate Silver uses the same player-tracking advanced metrics from the NBA to analyze protests from 3-D models created by hundreds of live feed accounts to determine whether the actions of police officers and protesters were justified.
I'm not saying the other problems people point to with Google Glass are unjustified and the price of Google Glass is still prohibitive, but man ... I sure wish Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown had the option to say "Google Glass: Live Feed On" before they were approached by their assailants. One more step toward finally getting some justice from these tragedies.