Police cameras are an important tool for the law enforcement community. Police body cameras come in handy in a variety of situations: documenting the scene of an accident or crime, creating an important record of a volatile and confusing situation, wolf box dash cam police traffic stops, arrests, as well as eliminating “he-said, she-said” incidents with the press of a button.
Amazing advances in police camera technology are allowing police and law enforcement to benefit from high definition vehicle and police body cameras. Body cameras and car cameras are becoming increasingly ubiquitous with high tech models coming with a variety of useful designs and features. The usefulness of body-worn cameras for police officers is obvious. For one, they can protect officers in the event of misconduct allegations and from costly litigation. Second, an officer can sometimes diffuse a situation by just letting a belligerent person know they are being recorded.
Third, they can provide valuable evidence and records of incidents, traffic stops, arrests and crime scenes. Reasons to use officer-worn cameras are to increase officer safety, reduce agency liability, reduce officer complaints and improve the public perception of police, ” Lafayette police Sgt. John Sellers told TechBeat. It is really no wonder why there is such a growing demand for both police body cameras and police car cameras.
Most of the body cameras police use either clip on to the front of their uniform shirt or are disguised as a shirt button. Popular body cams include a small pager-sized model that clips on the shirt. Lawmate’s button-type cameras are disguised as a shirt button and record to a small digital recorder that fits in a pocket. There are many other models including button cameras with built-in digital video recorders that record either to internal memory or to a MicroSD card. Most of these cameras record at between 640 x 480 resolution to 720 x 480 resolution. They also usually have a time/date stamp feature. Some are also waterproof and some have password protection as well. Many of these same cameras are available to the public for personal use.
The most advanced police body camera on the market today is a model that replaces the lapel handset mic on an officer’s uniform and connects to their radio. What it so advanced is the HD 1080p recording resolution, GPS geo tagging, the LCD screen and the supervisor password protection. It also can be used a police car dashboard camera.
Police watchdogs and citizens groups also support the use of police cameras and dashboard cameras as tools for accountability, but are concerned about citizen’s privacy issues that could arise with their use. Some legal experts encourage cameras saying the more video evidence, the better. A world where “all encounters can be recorded by everybody” is “not necessarily a bad state of affairs, ” Professor Howard Wasserman, a first Amendment scholar at Florida International University’s law school, told the new York Times.
If you have car insurance, then you may be covered for legal claims and your insurer may run the claim for you using their own in house legal team. This can reduce stress for you as it means everything is taken care of for you and you do not usually have to worry about paying any disbursements if your claim is unsuccessful. However, you will never meet your legal team unless you go to court. All contact is likely to be done by email and over the telephone; you may not have a single claim handler but a team which could mean you talk to a different person each time you phone, although this depends on the company.
Today’s law-enforcement officer has to contend with a bevy of issues that arise from not following protocol: pay loss, sizable fines, extra labor hours, missed criminal convictions, and, ultimately, loss of employment. With all the new digital documentation devices available, it would seem that a better policy-management and employee-testing software system would be firmly in place. Unfortunately, there’s always that one lawsuit that leaks out, and the media runs wild with it.
Take, for instance, the Austin, Texas Police Department’s policy on using dash cameras. After an officer shot a suspect fatally without recording it, a policy was put in place mandating that all stops be recorded. Whether out of blatant disregard or not, two Austin officers elected not to activate their dash cams during two separate field stops and were punished with suspension. While installing digital cameras in the cars would eliminate the need for officers to activate the device and then spring into action (the perk is that they would run continuously and send information back to HQ in real time), it would be a dizzying task to carry out, not to mention the $8 million price tag to update the entire fleet of cars. Until that time, proper policy management coupled with routine training and retention testing will have to be the primary solution.