Body Worn Video Steering Group
Each week body camera users grow in number, and the scale of an implementation can range from just one or two, to hundreds across a department. In order to manage a project where there is a consistent flow of new data, PoliceOne.com shared this concise package of wisdom on what one should consider.
1. Establish Policies, Procedures, and Protocols:
Getting a strong and clearly defined policy in place prior to implementation can make all the difference for the success of a mobile video program. A good policy will not only address use and operation, but also provide guidelines for recording security, access, storage and retention. This policy should be reviewed periodically to ensure it still meets the need of the agency and covers any new issues that may come up in the field.
2. Quality Matters:
Since the video is being recorded to be used as evidence, it’s critical that it is as high-quality as possible. A fuzzy, dim video will likely be all but worthless in a courtroom. A high-resolution video may pick up small details that an officer may not notice in person, or enable new capabilities such as viewing license plate numbers in near complete darkness or documenting suspect activity from hundreds of yards away.
3. Ensure Evidence Integrity:
For video to be used in any kind of court proceeding, it must be complete and unaltered. The responsibility lies with the law enforcement officer to demonstrate that the correct steps were taken to capture, transmit, store and handle the video file in a secure way without any opportunity for tampering. If the file’s integrity is questionable, it would be all too easy for an opposing counsel to get a critical piece of video evidence thrown out of court.
4. Don’t Forget the Back End:
Newer mobile video evidence collection systems can record in resolutions up to 1080p Full HD, and while this offers substantial improvements in image quality, it also creates substantially larger video files. Agencies must have a strategy for offloading, storing and managing these video files to ensure they will be accessible when they’re needed. Look for a comprehensive evidence management platform that aligns with chain of custody requirements and can ingest and manage a range of digital evidence types including still images, video, case files and report documents from multiple agencies.
5. Consider Video Beyond the Body:
Most urban areas a filled with fixed surveillance that can support footage documented on a body camera, in addition to in-car cameras. Furthermore wearable camera systems, for example, are an unobtrusive and nearly effortless method to create an accurate and unbiased record of face-to-face officer engagements. In addition, voice commentary can give context to a video where appropriate and has been shown to make evidence stronger as it has the potential to clarify what was happening at the time – and avoid second guessing an officer.
Content provided by Panasonic System Communications Company of North America (Parts 1-4, Part 5 adapted)