"Caught on video" cable TV shows are peppered with frightening car crashes, tense scuffles between officers and suspects and other choice scenes captured on cameras mounted in police vehicles.
The cameras are found on more than half the local police and sheriff's patrol vehicles in departments across the country, and they're starting to appear in Western New York.
The Town of Tonawanda, Niagara Falls and West Seneca departments make regular use of the cameras, the State Police are installing them now and Amherst has older camera systems in some of its patrol vehicles.
Advocates say the cameras protect officers and civilians alike by preserving a record of their encounters, provide crucial evidence at trials and are useful in training police.
Cost is an obstacle for local departments -- such as Buffalo, Cheektowaga and the Erie County Sheriff's Office -- that do not use them.
Are the camera systems worth the investment, as much as $5,000 or more per vehicle? Do you think more area police departments should install them? And have you ever had an encounter with police that you wish had been recorded?
-- Stephen T. Watson