OS police officers now wearing body cameras
Oliver Springs Police Department recently purchased body-worn video systems — or body cameras — and the small cameras are now part of each officer’s uniform in the town.
The FirstVu HDs from Kansas City-based Digital Ally include 1-inch cameras and 2.5-by-4-inch DVRs that can be worn in a variety of locations.
Body cameras have garnered a great deal of attention because of several high profile officer-involved shootings across the U.S.
Although the general public has largely responded positively to the cameras because they provide an unbiased view of potentially controversial incidents, law enforcement agencies benefit even more from their use, said Stanton Ross, CEO of Digital Ally.
“Everyone behaves better when they’re being recorded,” he added.
“This benefits the relationship between the police department and the community, improves officer safety and has even been shown to drastically reduce the frequency of use-of-force incidents.”
A majority of cases also go uncontested, and complaints against officers are dropped as soon as it becomes known that the incident was recorded on video.
This saves the department money and lets the officers spend more time patrolling the community instead of in court.
The FirstVu HD features a wider field of view and lower light recording capability.
Archived video recordings are in high quality, and the body cams prevent unauthorized access to, or tampering with, the recordings.
Access to the video evidence is logged.
The FirstVu HD features a user-replaceable, rechargeable battery that can last up to 2.5 days while powered on.
It also allows the camera to save up to 60 seconds of video footage before the officer presses the “record” button. This is especially important when events require any use of force, because it allows the officer to focus on his safety first while still being able to go back and capture crucial recorded documentation of the incident once there is no longer any danger to the officer, the suspect or the public.
The “system is working so good that we are in process of buying the car cameras to match,” said Oliver Springs Police Chief, Kenneth Morgan.
Although body-worn video systems can go everywhere the officer does recording events from the officer’s perspective, in-car video systems provide a more neutral view that includes the actions of both the officers and civilians and does not miss anything when officers turn away or after a suspect is placed in the back seat of the patrol car.
The dash cam’s fixed view also shows movement more clearly, which is particularly valuable during sobriety tests.
“Recording with both in-car and body-worn video systems provides the most complete perspective and insight into an incident,” Ross said.
Oliver Springs is also equipping its vehicles with VuLink, which enables body cameras to start recording automatically and allows the department’s in-car video systems to be automatically or manually activated simultaneously with the body cameras.
For example, when a vehicle’s emergency lights are turned on, the body camera will automatically begin recording simultaneously with the vehicle’s video system, thereby removing any distraction to the officer or the chance that the officer may forget to activate a recording manually.
If the officer is away from the vehicle when an incident occurs, VuLink will also allow him to remotely start recordings on both systems manually.
The recordings can later be linked together to provide a seamless record of the same incident from different perspectives using proprietary back office software, which manages and authenticates the evidence.