Law enforcement is a job full of risks. When officers head off to work each day, their lives are in danger. It's something that just comes with the job.
For police, a situation can turn deadly in the blink of an eye. Decisions must be made in split seconds, and calling for backup isn't always an option.
This was the case for Detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker, and Detective Elizabeth Butler, two officers who were killed in the line of duty. With almost 40 years of experience between them, the pair was investigating a possible assault when the assailant suddenly began firing. Sadly, the two were killed before they could request any backup.
The tragedy led Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak to begin questioning if the event could have been avoided. He wondered if there was a way that help could have been called automatically, and that's when he discovered Yardarm.
Yardarm is a small sensor that fits into the butt of police firearms. It works a lot like a FitBit, only instead of tracking steps, it tracks the motion of the gun. The sensor detects when the firearm has been unholstered and if it was fired. When triggered, it reports a time stamp and GPS location for where the event occurred, allowing backup to be notified immediately.
The developers of Yardarm are hoping to take the technology even further. In the few past years, several instances of police cruelty and excessive force have been in the news—the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, just to name a few. These events have placed law enforcement officers right in the spotlight, and under extreme scrutiny.
Because of this, many police departments are exploring ways to better protect their officers, as well as the public. Purchasing body cameras for every officer seems to be the most popular option, but that causes many officers to be concerned for their own rights to privacy.
This is where Yardarm believes it can help. The developers plan on improving the sensors so they sync with body cameras. Doing so would allow the camera to be turned on in the event a weapon was drawn, providing critical details of the shooting.
Would this be good thing? Do you think every law enforcement officer should have technology like this in the future. Let us know in the comments below.