Choosing the right police body camera setup (with related video)
Bo Kidd, the chief of police in Buda, Texas (population 10,209), offers his views on the police video camera system selection process. Buda is in Hays County, Texas. It is part of the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metropolitan statistical area and one of Austin’s fastest growing suburbs. Chief Kidd (photo below on right) is a former captain with the Hays County Sherriff’s Office. Here are Chief Kidd’s views.
GPN: Do you have any advice for police/local government on where to store/archive police video?
Chief Bo Kidd: Do your homework. This is a fast-changing environment; the need for cloud-based technologies in law enforcement is clear and a lot of companies are scrambling to deliver this technology.
GPN: How did you select your department’s cloud provider for video archiving?
BK: Over a year ago, we were looking for officer point-of-view body cameras, and Taser had come out with wearable cameras with great video quality. They also had a storage component (evidence.com) as an option due to the tremendous storage capacity needed with storing video.
They created a user-friendly dashboard that allows batching other documents with the case associated with the video. As a result, we have been able to create case files entirely through evidence.com. In the past, our office manager created case files for the DA’s Office, and those files were driven weekly 20 miles south of Buda to the DA’s Office.
Now the case files are created and batched in evidence.com and an e-mail link is sent to the DA’s Office. It has saved time and money. There is another great feature that automatically sends any additional supplement reports that may be generated afterwards to ensure that the DA’s Office has all the evidence that has been submitted.
We did not originally intend on using evidence.com to go paperless, however, we found that its dashboard is very robust in its capabilities. We discovered that the system offers a better and more efficient way to handle our paperwork.
GPN: What questions should police ask body camera and video storage vendors in the selection process?
BK: I believe that we should always consider the needs of the user (troops that will have to use them), and determine ways in which they can employ the technology. For example, our officers pick up their body-worn cameras at the beginning of their shift from the docking station and place them back at the end of their shift. When the device is place back into the cradle (docking station) the video is automatically downloaded and filed and the device is charged back up for another shift. The department should find out whether officers find the equipment easy to use. Security is always important as well.
GPN: How do you protect archived police video from unauthorized use or accidental erasing? How do you back up the video?
BK: The administration presets the length of time different types of video are saved. There isn’t a possibility of accidentally erasing a video with our system. Taser has redundant storage backup on multiple sites with adequate security measures in place.
GPN: Does the cloud have a role in video surveillance archiving, emergency response, disaster recovery or other public safety tasks?
BK: We do not use the cloud for video surveillance archiving currently. Body worn cameras in law enforcement and cloud-based technology will soon be standard in the law enforcement profession. If your agency isn’t already using these technologies, you should start planning now.
GPN: Thank you, Chief Kidd, for your views.
This traffic-stop video shows the difference in point of view with typical in-vehicle cameras and the Taser Axon Flex camera.