Since the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, the calls to monitor law enforcement officers' use of force has spread rapidly. Several companies have emerged to supply police with body cameras to capture their interactions with civilians in the hope of averting similar incidents.
According to The Wall Street Journal, body cameras have become a $1 billion industry since the deaths of Brown, Eric Garner, and other unarmed black civilians at the hands of police officers. On Monday, Seattle-based camera and cloud storage provider VieVu offered further evidence of how hot the space has become, getting acquired by The Safariland Group, a California-based maker of law enforcement products that's anticipating an initial public offering in 2016. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.
VieVu, founded in 2007 by ex-Seattle police officer and former Taser employee Steve Ward, has about 4,000 law enforcement agencies in 17 countries using its body cameras and digital video storage.
VieVu markets its cameras to law enforcement agencies as a way to reduce costly and time-consuming lawsuits. "There is so much liability for police officers today, and most things come down to a he-said-she-said," Ward told Inc. this past winter. "If a police officer gets a complaint or goes to court, it's an officer's word against someone else's word. I wanted to make a body camera that can record an officer's day [so] complaints get settled quicker, court cases get won faster, and the cameras can eliminate all ambiguity."
In 2013, the number of use-of-force complaints in Oakland, California dropped by 1,350 compared with four years earlier before VieVu equipped every officer in the city with a camera.
The acquisition, which will allow VieVu to continue as a standalone company within Safariland's suite of brands, will bring VieVu's cameras to a huge distribution network.
"As VieVu enters its next phase of growth, particularly as demand for body-worn cameras continues to increase, this strategic partnership with Safariland will provide us with the resources and deep industry experience to support the expansion of our platform," Ward said in a press release.