Remotely recorded webcams for busting crooked cops

30th January 2015

Editor –

The recently reported arrest of two Tshwane Metro traffic officers for soliciting a bribe from the head of Crime Line brought a warm glow of
satisfaction to my heart.

All corrupt officials deserve dismissal and exemplary, lengthy jail time for their violation of the public trust and the honour of their

This incident reminded me of an idea I have had for some time for the combating of this kind of reprehensible, illegal behaviour of officials
possessing lawful power over the citizenry.

If video and simultaneous, synchronised audio recordings can be made by members of the public during interactions between themselves and traffic
or police officers, irrefutable evidence can thus be gathered, usable for the prosecution of corrupt officials for illegal behaviour. This can go a
long way towards stamping out the debilitating scourge of corruption in our country.

However, such officials can use their positions of power to ‘pull rank’ on the public and ‘confiscate’ the recording equipment, such as cellphones and smartphones, and thus protect themselves.

What is needed, therefore, is a solution that incorporates one or more well-hidden video cameras and microphones, coupled through a wireless
connection to remote computers.

The recording and transmission equipment will need to be carefully concealed in, or incorporated into, clothing or integrated into personal fashion accessories. As such, it will need to be very compact and difficult to spot.

A wireless network link must stream the interaction live to one or, better, several remote computers, where it is stored. These multiple computers could include those at crime-fighting centres or private homes, or in widely scattered mobile devices. The incorporation of GPS information on the recording, as well as a time and date stamp, will help prevent any possibility for the corrupt official to escape his or her just deserts through a legal loop- hole.

By the time the miscreant official discovers, if at all, that the illegal extortionary threat and solicitation have been captured, it will be too
late. ‘Confiscation’ will not help him (or her), as he will not know the locations to which the data has been streamed for preservation.

I am sure the technology for such a system exists. All it needs to deploy it is the creativity and inventiveness of a technologically savvy, enterprising entrepreneur to put it together and make it available to the public.

The legality of the use of such a system will need to be ensured, of course, but a public official can scarcely call on a ‘right to privacy’ as a way to duck culpability for illegal or corrupt behaviour. On the other hand, the knowledge or even the mere suspicion that his actions and words are being observed and recorded can help to keep a potentially errant officer ‘on the straight and narrow’. In any case, it may be necessary to revise the law to accommodate the surveillance of officials.

It is sad, but a reality, that members of the public need to protect themselves from their protectors. Constant vigilance, and action, against official (and, for that matter, private) corruption is vital for our democracy to work.

Enough, but certain, prosecutions of crooked officials will eventually have a beneficial impact on this problem.

A fed-up citizen