Car warming, police body cameras get technical

The police board met in the new community room at the downtown police headquarters.

The police board met in the new community room at the downtown police headquarters.

In a case of law chasing technology, Councilman John Sharp said Thursday he will introduce an ordinance to allow people to warm cars using remote starters on newer cars.

It is against the law in the city to warm vehicles unattended because thieves harvest them like ripe fruit.

But new cars have remote starters that allow only the intended driver to drive away.

Sharp, chair of the council public safety committee, addressed the board of police commissioners in the bright new community room at the downtown police station.

He told them he would only introduce the change if police supported it.

Police Chief Darryl Forte said he would support it if the remote starter were manufactured into the cars but not necessarily for retrofitted products that purport to do the same thing.

In another matter of technology and police, Sharp again advocated for Kansas City police to get body cameras, a concept that has spread since the Ferguson police shooting.

But Sharp also sent board members a recent article from Scientific American that warned that more planning and research may be needed before police make widespread use of the cameras.

Since the Ferguson shooting, police there have issued 50 of the cameras and at least a dozen cities have announced plans for them.

According to the article:

Five small studies are positive, but training and protocol for how and when to use the cameras are important and lacking.

Mistakes such as a camera being off during a critical incident could damage trust in police, and one survey found that nearly a third of public safety agencies that use them have no written policy on when to use them.

There are also questions about whether community outreach or officer training or other things would be more effective at reducing clashes.

Among other questions: “Who has access to videos? Will eyewitnesses be less willing to speak forthrightly if their conversations are recorded?’

The article by the editors says more study is needed, but “Chances are the movement to adopt body-worn cameras is unstoppable.”

The National Institute of Justice is funding two large body camera studies in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and results are expected late this year.

The U.S. Department of Justice will probably end up helping pay for many body cameras. It should buy them only for police forces that participate in larger research efforts and share results with the wider public,” the article concludes. “This way we can all see what is going on.”

The full article is at:

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