Wearable cameras have recently taken center stage as a silver bullet for mediating law enforcement officer’s (LEO’s) operations in the field. Demand for cameras has reached a fever pitch coinciding with media coverage surrounding events like the Ferguson, MO protests.
Back-end File Management- This is vital to the usefulness, security and availability of a digital evidence management system. Look for a backend software system that can import multiple file types and even integrate with your existing evidence management software. You’ll want basic features like user defined rights so users can only see what they need to see, e.g. their own video and not that of other officers. You’ll likely want command staff to have different access than officers. Search functions should be intuitive and quick.
The Fine Print- There are many details to consider when evaluating wearable digital evidence systems available today. The system should be designed to perform consistently in the background allowing the officer to predict its behavior while focusing on the job at hand. Proper attention to detail can be the difference between an effective system that increases officer safety and effectiveness in the field versus equipment that sits on the shelf unused.
Things to Keep in Mind-
- Most body-worn cameras are manually activated. Most cannot automatically begin a recording like many in-vehicle video systems. Will officers manually start a recording when it counts?
- Similarly, many body-worn cameras can be turned off manually by accident or intentionally, failing to record vital evidence.
- The more buttons, the more complexity
- Most body-worn cameras are not able to integrate with in-vehicle video recording systems. Of those that are, capabilities vary greatly.
- Security standards vary. File formats can be standardized or proprietary, secure or open. Video recording media can be removable.
- Video can be offloaded via wire or wirelessly. These protocols can be secure or open to varying degrees.
- Most body-worn cameras do not have GPS to capture recording location.
- Some cameras can live-stream video in different ways.
- Battery life of the camera is often less than a full shift.
- Resolution and frame rates vary.
- Some cameras offer speech recognition for hands-free operation.
- Some cameras allow for viewing recorded video on the device itself. Others must sync with or download to a mobile device first to be viewed there.
- Some cameras offer no visibility of the video until it’s ingested into the back-end management software.