The accelerating evolution of technology has provided law enforcement agencies with a wide array of new tools and resources to help them in performing their jobs. However, it is also a fact that budgets are not unlimited; nor is time for learning new platforms and processes. For that reason, it is essential to find the products that best serve your officers and departments by delivering solutions that save money, save time, and work as force multipliers.
At the same time, with law enforcement agencies and officers under greater scrutiny than ever before, it has become increasingly important to be able to verify that the actions taken by officers are appropriate given the situation. Accordingly, the use of in-car video systems and body-worn cameras has become widespread, vastly increasing the amount of video being created. This in turn greatly increases the bandwidth and storage space required, along with the time needed to tag and catalog the video, so that it can be easily located and made available for use as evidence in arrests and trials. It has also placed a burden on already overtaxed agencies as thousands of Freedom of Information Act requests require officers to spend time redacting bystanders’ faces before providing video to fulfill requests.
While many individual products on the market claim to address all of these needs, the best technology solutions for law enforcement must do more. They need to work together as a single integrated system. They need to improve overall law enforcement operations. And they need to make busy officers and departments more efficient. Simply put, they need to make work easier – not add layers of complexity.
Let’s take apart the components of a really great integrated imaging and evidence gathering solution for law enforcement and consider them one by one, and also as part of a complete system to improve operations and efficiencies.
Body-worn cameras protect law enforcement officers as well as the populations you serve and protect. The best body-worn cameras deliver outstanding imaging quality with rugged durability and features that make them easy to deploy and use while in the field. Because it is very inconvenient to have to return to your precinct to replace a battery, you want a BWC with a long-lasting battery – preferably one that is quickly swapped in the field. Of course, it goes without saying that your body-worn camera, along with the rest of your field technology, should integrate seamlessly with your entire digital evidence system.
Documentation of your actions during an encounter in the field depends on your in-car system capturing the activity all around your vehicle, in high-definition video. Because you need to be able to focus on the situation at hand, you should be able to rely on the system automatically initiating recording for a range of triggers, including vehicle speed, light-bar status, G-forces, doors opening, and weapon lock releases.
Unified digital evidence software
With body-worn cameras and in-car systems providing a wealth of video evidence, it is essential to have unified digital evidence (UDE) software that keeps files organized and easily accessible. Your UDE system should enable easy evidence documentation and ensure you are always in compliance with regulations. With this software, you are also protected from chain-of-custody challenges.
Agencies are tasked with responding to an increasing volume of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. This can consume a tremendous amount of personnel time, at a time when agency budgets are more pressed than ever. The best automated redaction software can significantly reduce the manual effort of editing your video files and respond quickly and efficiently to FOIA requests.
Part of a culture change
Digital evidence has become an essential tool for law enforcement operations and investigations. With more and more data available, without the right solution to properly manage and handle digital information, departments can become overwhelmed. However, with the right technologies in place, your digital evidence becomes a powerful resource to protect officers in performing their duties.