The benefits of body worn camera (BWC) recordings are numerous. Body worn cameras are essentially another set of eyes on the scene that record the actions that unfold in front of a police officer. Most officers have experienced individuals who behave in an unruly and offensive manner in the streets and then present a very different face in court. This can sometimes undermine a case for an arrest that stems from the suspect's behavior in the field. The use of a body camera can show exactly what the officer was dealing with at the time of arrest. These cameras can also protect officers from civilian lawsuits. For example, recordings can be used to show the circumstances that necessitated the degree of force used during an arrest as well as provide evidence that officers followed proper protocol during a traffic stop or other interaction.
The unbiased nature of a body camera recording makes it a reliable piece of evidence that law enforcement can bring to court—essentially bringing the judge and jury into the streets with the officer at the time of the encounter in question. Additionally, body cameras have been shown to reduce complaints against officers, and knowing that they are being recorded can help to minimize defiance against officers.
Closely consider the following components when shopping for a body worn camera solution to suit your department's specific needs.
It's important for your camera to have a long battery life to support ongoing investigations in the field so it doesn't die when you need it most. When considering your BWC options, also check to see if the battery is field serviceable so you can swap it out for another if necessary. Some BWCs have a longlasting 12-hour battery life, such as the Arbitrator Body Worn Camera.
Just like you would choose fully rugged mobile computers and laptops for your emergency response and law enforcement vehicles that will withstand bumps and rough terrain, you need fully rugged body worn cameras, too. Imagine an officer in a foot chase running through fields, jumping over fences, and taking down a suspect. The body camera covers as much rough terrain as the officer does. Look for a model that is IP67 and Mil-STD-810G-rated, such as the Panasonic line, to ensure that your evidence collected is protected in any environment.
Let's face it. If your video resolution is poor, it will be difficult to identify evidence. You need a high resolution camera for the best view of any and all evidence. Higher resolution video does take up more storage space on your camera in the form of memory, however. Find a balance between the resolution and the storage space available that works for you based on your department's specific needs.
The best body worn cameras utilize a unified evidence management software that captures and manages bodyworn, in-car and fixed surveillance footage. This type of integrated system keeps track of all evidence and ensures nothing is lost due to human error. You can store your video evidence on your premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid system that is a combination of both.
Body worn cameras need to be easy to activate in any situation for public safety officers. This includes recording and taking photos. Also check to ensure that these other components will work seamlessly and automatically for you when the camera is turned on:
- Date stamps
- Instant file tagging
- GPS, GPS location tagging, and GPS time syncing
- Real-time streaming video
- Docking station
Selecting a body worn camera that can configure triggers to automatically start recording is a great advantage for your officers. The most innovative cameras allow you to connect wirelessly to most powered vehicle functions to start recordings immediately with no loss of information due to turning on the camera manually. This type of system will also allow you to synchronize your officer’s recordings with an in-vehicle system.
Taking all of these factors into consideration can help you decide on a reliable body worn camera that meets all of your needs while capturing both video and audio evidence in any situation. For more information on body worn cameras or other emergency response vehicle equipment, contact Keltek today. We offer the most advanced public safety technology and provide vehicle upfitting services for our customers.