It was only a matter of time before a project like
Google Glass tapped into the law enforcement arena. Google Glass, with the help
of CopTrax was
used by the Byron, Ga. Police Department to perform the first successful field
trail of Google Glass by law enforcement officials. CopTrax is a new in-car
video system from Stalker.
Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that is being
developed by Google in its Project Glass research and development project with
the goal of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer. Still just a prototype and not yet available, Google
Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can interact
with the Internet via natural language voice commands.
CopTrax/Glass field trial was designed to test Glass functionality in the
CopTrax video capture environment during a number of common police activities
such as routine traffic enforcement patrol, stops issuing citations, arrests
and firearms practice, according to Lt.
Bryan Hunter, patrol commander at the Byron Police.
Operation “Futuristic Police
Officer” was the first known test of Google Glass in actual law enforcement
situations and environments and was designed to test Glass’ compatibility with
CopTrax’s innovative real-time video streaming, high-resolution video capture,
and cloud storage, and live GPS tracking from any Internet-connected computer.
Until this test, body-worn video
cameras have been used by police officers but none have the capability of
supplying real-time streaming video and Geo-location information, according to
the Byron Police. The combination of Google Glass and CopTrax also enhances
proximity alerts and Geo fencing information for the officer on patrol.
“In addition to testing routine
police activities, another goal of the field trial was to study the increased
situational awareness and capture of high-quality audio and video evidence from
the officer’s perspective,” said Lt. Hunter, who served as the field trial
The field test was performed in
September 2013. Sgt. Eric Ferris and K9 Officer Corporal Clay Fauquier were
outfitted with Google Glass while running the CopTrax application. The officers
performed several traffic stops while using the Google Glass device running
with the CopTrax application and they determined that the Google Glass device
did not obstruct their view or movement while driving and interacting with
speed enforcement equipment. They reported no interference by Google Glass when
exiting and re-entering the patrol vehicle or interacting with motorists.
“Wearing Google Glass caused no
problems or interference. Recording video from the officer’s point of view
could be helpful if questions about the circumstances of the arrest are
raised,” Cpl. Fauquier said. Officers performed one arrest while using the
Google Glass device running the CopTrax app. The officers said the Google Glass
device did not interfere with their detainment or control of the subject.
“Ultimately, CopTrax is meant to
save lives and careers through accurate capture of events and positive location
preservation,” said CopTrax Product Manager Bill Switzer. “Overall, the tests
were quite positive. Google Glass is the ideal body-worn video device. It gives
correct perspective and follows the officer’s head movements, unlike other
clip-on type cameras,” he said.
“The image quality from the Google
Glass device was incredibly crisp and clear. Since Glass is worn at the
officer’s eye level, viewing the video from Project Futuristic Police Officer
was like looking through the officer’s eyes,” Switzer said. “The video that we
captured was amazing. We are dedicated to officer safety and we appreciate the
opportunity to use technology to protect those who protect us,” Switzer said.
Officers also tested their service
pistols and patrol rifles to check video stability, device retention, and
effects of recoil. “Target acquisition was great. We fired an H&K UMP 9mm
full auto with a red dot sight system. We had no problem acquiring the target.
Engaging the target in full auto, the vibration or recoil of the weapon didn’t
bother the optics of the Google Glass, and I was able to get a clear sight
picture,” Sgt. Ferris said.
Sgt. Farris and Cpl. Fauquier were testing Google Glass, they found it to be
better than expected. The miniature screen didn’t obstruct their view and with
the camera being at eye level it was great to be able to capture exactly what
the officer was seeing. One downside, according to their testing, was that if
someone is left eye dominant, it can be difficult to use.
battery life was another area of concern. It is understandable that such a
small piece of equipment will not last for a 12-hour shift, but that could be
another obstacle with Google Glass being used for law enforcement. Another
possible drawback would be for departments that don’t provide cell phones for
every officer, because that could leave the officer’s personal cell phone
records open to a subpoena.
can see Google Glass being useful for all departments in the future especially
as more applications are integrated into the system such as LPR systems and
facial recognition,” Lt. Hunter said. “In today’s world, prosecutors, judges,
defense attorneys and jurors like to see video. Using video this way would only
increase convictions as long as everything was done legally to start with. I
could really see this system being useful for DUI cases where standardized
field sobriety test are used. If the officer is doing the HGN test and the
nystagmus shows on the video, that would be a tremendous benefit in
Yesenia Duran is technical editor for LAW and ORDER and Tactical Response Magazines, and was previously Managing Editor
for Hendon Publishing. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.