In order to ensure road safety and enforce traffic rules, the Kolkata Police had introduced body cameras in September 2016. Traffic police officers were required to wear these GPS-enabled cameras and record prosecutions that were likely to escalate into a major dispute or controversy.
While the decision to use the body camera was left to the discretion of the traffic cops, a recent incident in Lake Market has changed the rule. On September 18, a traffic policeman argued with and allegedly slapped the driver of a vehicle ferrying a bureaucrat’s wife. Traffic Police officers in Kolkata have now been instructed to record every prosecution they make with the body cameras attached to their uniform.
Traffic cops will need to be extra cautious about their behaviour while capturing the response of the offender. A senior officer said, “It’s a two-way system meant to bring transparency.”
Cities usually have CCTV cameras installed at key signals. Moving away from relying on CCTV and instead depending on the footage from body-worn cameras can be useful, especially in cases when it becomes unclear whether the motorist or the police is at fault. A body-worn camera offers unique views in the event of a controversy and will help counter the problem of wrong prosecutions as well as the issue of motorists misbehaving with the traffic cops, upon getting caught.
Bengaluru, New Delhi, and Hyderabad have already enforced the use of these body-worn cameras, and this move comes as a welcome step and is expected to curb the friction between motorists and traffic cops.