What’s important in choosing a police video setup (with related video)
Tom Volner, the sheriff in Reynolds County, Mo. (population 6,565) offered some insight to GPN on the video camera system selection process. Volner’s department has relied on a Taser video system with Axon body cameras since 2013. The system and its charging stations offer convenience and ease of operation, says the sheriff. “When the officers are done with their shifts, they just plug the camera in and the system downloads everything (to the cloud). The system charges their camera at the same time.” With the setup, officers are able to annotate the videos and review them from their smartphones or laptops. Since the storage system is cloud-based, officers can access their data from different locations—not just at the sheriff’s headquarters.
Volner (photo to the right) says the video setup helps officers do their jobs. He says the videos help officers write their incident reports. “The biggest point I had to stress with my deputies was the fact that I’m not going to use the videos against them. I don’t have the time to review their videos. The videos are there to help them make their cases.” The department’s policy states that the officer’s video camera is to be turned on as part of any enforcement action. Video is also to be recorded during disasters or disaster recovery, when it might be useful to review the video after the incident.
For departments that are considering what kind of video setup to buy, Volner advises: “When looking for a provider, don’t sell yourself short on the amount of storage needed. Also, when deciding between using a server or cloud storage, remember that downloading and reviewing data takes up a lot of time.”
Ease of use is key, Volner tells GPN. “When deciding on a system, look at the simplicity of the operation, i.e., is it easy to activate under a stressful situation. Also, how complicated is it to play back the videos, make notes and view scenes.” Volner says the setup should enable easy forwarding of videos to the appropriate users. “The ability to email the videos to attorneys also cuts down on the time needed to make CDs, and also allows them to view an audit trail for the evidence. This reduces the chance of the issue that the video was tampered with. The only person that can erase a video is the person with administrative rights.”
Volner urges prospective system buyers to study policies at other departments as well as statutes regarding digital evidence. “You should be able to adapt your departmental policies to reflect them. Remember that someone (Administrator) has to be able to delete videos that are no longer needed.”
In the video, sheriff’s deputies from Kershaw County S.C., demonstrate the Taser Axon Flex body police cameras. Lt. Danny Templar describes the camera and shoots some raw footage with it.