Seattle Police Department Hosts Contest Looking for Hackers Who Can Doctor Officers' Dash Cam Videos

One of the reforms being promoted to reduce police brutality is greater use of mandatory cameras by police units to ensure that excessive force isn't used. Dashboard and body cameras can also, purportedly, protect police officers from false accusations.


The Seattle Police Department has a dashboard camera system in place, but says it can't allow the public to view the footage out of privacy concerns. In order to share the recordings with the public, it has to blur faces and distort voices.

As a result, the SPD is hosting a contest looking for “a few good hackers” to step up and redact its videos so it can release the 314,636 hours of videos it's captured over the past five years.

The SPD's hacking contest has its skeptics. The “event highlights the vulnerability of police-worn body cameras, and shows that they really do have the power to alter the footage if they are the ones in control of it,” writes John Vibes of the Free Thought Project. “What is also interesting here, is that the Seattle Police Department is so technologically illiterate, that they are being forced to recruit hackers, a group that is traditionally a rival of police.”

The research on using police cameras is mixed. Researchers from Cambridge University used a controlled experiment in Rialto, California as proof that police use of force dropped when body cameras were made mandatory for a 12-month period, but it's important to note that even in numerous cases where abuse was caught on film, there were no resulting prosecutions. This points to the need for a more complete overhaul of a justice system that rarely indicts abuses by police.

h/t Raw Story

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