Former cop earning plaudits for his wearable camera company

Former cop earning plaudits for his wearable camera company
SEATTLE -- Wearable cameras on cops have been a source of controversy. Sometimes police agencies and officers want lawmakers and the public to see what's really going on, but sometimes they don't.

Steve Ward doesn't care about reasons why the cameras are worn, just that police wear them. Now he wants to put a similar version into the public's hands.

Six years ago, Ward created VieVu, a company that produces a rugged, virtually tamperproof camera that officers wear that records audio, video, time and GPS information.

Since then, the former Seattle police officer claims VieVu is now the market leader in wearable cameras designed for police use. The company claims 3,000 police departments in 16 countries use them.

The design is simple. A sliding switch uncovers the lens to start recording. The recording stops when the switch covers the lens.

He got the idea back mid 90s when the 13-year police veteran was part of a magazine profile on bicycle cops and a photographer strapped a camera on him.

"I realized that this is just like those in-car cameras that were just catching on, but the cop wears it," Ward said. "It means you capture everything a cop does, not just the 5-percent that happens in front of the car."

Ward calls it his "ah-ha" moment.

But VieVu's success is not just with the camera, but with the backend software that provides a level of security need to protect potential evidence.

"The software prevents officers from deleting or editing video," Ward said.

Only people using specific computers with the proper credentials can manipulate the video. Now, Ward has had another "ah-ha" moment.

VieVu has launched a crowdsourcing campaign on the website IndiGoGo to raise money to fund development of the VieVu Squared, a prosumer version of the cop camera.

It's intended to people who have some liability to the job that they preform, such as repairmen, real estate agents, appraisers and delivery men.

"Video solves problems and it solves problems quickly," Ward said. "Businesses in our litigious society want the same protect law enforcement has."

The VieVu Squared will be HD, with live streaming video capabilities. It's expected to run $200, much cheaper than the $900 version police use but it won't have the tamperproof security software police require. It's expected to be released this fall.