Video evidence plays a crucial role in making officers safer, defending a department against lawsuits or complaints, and increasing a department’s efficiency. Today’s officers can wear video recording devices directly on their uniforms. This advanced technology also ensures officers conduct themselves in a proper and professional manner. The following is a look at some of the major manufacturers of wearable video recording devices for police use and a basic description of the devices.
Digital Ally Inc.
Digital Ally, Inc.’s FirstVu™ is a weather-resistant digital audio/video system and digital camera for law enforcement, security and other documentation use. FirstVu is designed for versatility and can be mounted or attached to clothing with a wide variety of options. This lightweight system is small enough to fit in a pocket and does not require any external wires or additional components.
The FirstVu allows officers to record whenever and wherever they need it. The surveillance equipment is integrated into a single compact enclosure, eliminating the need for additional wires or parts. The Digital Ally FirstVu records wide angle video and audio or photographs evidence from the officer’s point of view, day or night. Useful meta data is also recorded, including date/time, important marked events, officer IDs, event and case numbers.
FirstVu simultaneously records to a secure internal memory to ensure chain of custody and evidence integrity as well as convenient, removable Secure Digital (SD) cards that may easily be viewed on standard systems. The camera comes standard with 8GB redundant memory, but it can be upgraded.
It also features a covert mode with vibrating notifications, infrared illumination, user-selectable Pre-Event Recording to capture the action before activating record, a rechargeable battery for up to four hours of operation, full VGA (640 x 480) video at 30 fps, 2MP still photos, and more.
To eliminate the issue of obstructing cables, the FirstVu is housed in a single unit. Most other wearable systems require additional components that add weight, unnecessary complexity. For example, cables can cause officers to lose crucial seconds by becoming caught up or entangled when trying to draw a weapon.
To protect chain of custody, recorded evidence cannot be edited or deleted on the system and is watermarked to prevent tampering. The system is password protected, users are logged, and the included robust, user-friendly back office software can check the integrity of a recording, while logging every use and generating a chain of custody report. Officers can record important details such as the date/time, location of important events during recordings, user ID or name, event ID, incident ID, age, ethnicity and more.
The FirstVu is impact and weather resistant and utilizes solid state memory that is unaffected by violent motion. An advanced clip system allows secure locking or quick transfer between a variety of locations, such as an officer’s uniform, the windshield or dash of a vehicle, or an interview room. Other mounting options are available for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, jet skis and many other applications.
Panasonic’s new Wearable Video Camera system, designed for law enforcement officers in the field, will provide agencies with a comprehensive system that captures and stores tamper-proof audio video evidence, delivering an accurate and unbiased record of officer engagements. In the digital age, where social media is ubiquitous, video evidence capture is vital to an agency’s reputation and the safety of its officers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, in 2011 60 percent of police departments and 66 percent of sheriff’s offices now use video solutions in their vehicles. Adopting body-worn video solutions is a natural complement to in-car platforms providing video directly from the officer’s vantage point.
Designed as a standalone solution, or able to be integrated with the Toughbook Arbitrator™ SafeServe® software version 7.4 slated for release in the Fall of 2012, the Panasonic WVTW310 wearable camera features a recording capacity of up to 32 hours using H.264 compression and a battery life of approximately five hours in pre-event continuous record mode or longer without. Delivering extremely wide angle views, the camera is optimized for both day and night usage.
“With the adoption of wearable cameras, public safety agencies can achieve total situational awareness and a comprehensive and seamless digital camera evidence capture solution, from the field to the courtroom,” said Greg Peratt, director of digital video products, Panasonic. “This single camera platform will provide agencies with a wide-angle audio and video record of important officer engagements while ensuring the integrity of the chain of custody, delivering significant time and cost savings in the acquisition, management and review of recorded evidence.”
The wearable camera systems includes Agent software, which allows the video image data on the camera to be automatically uploaded to a PC via the conversion box, and Viewer software, designed to allow the wide angle original video to be played back with stabilization and image distortion correction all while maintaining the evidence integrity of the original file.
The VIDMIC communicates just like your regular shoulder mic, only housed within is a full-color digital video recorder; a digital audio recorder; and a full-color still photo camera. Officers can use VIDMIC for: traffic stops; domestic violence calls; crime scene investigations; attempted suicide calls; prisoner transport; booking suspects; establishing probable cause; taking witness statements; confirming lawful entry; documenting resisting arrest; documenting lawful use of force; verifying proper and needed use of restraints.
The VIDMIC works like a regular shoulder mic only it needs to be worn center mass instead of on the shoulder. It does not require officers to add any battery packs or other devices to their belts. It attaches to the radio, but draws no more power from it than a standard shoulder mic.
Benefits of the VIDMIC include evidence documentation: “This is an excellent value when taken in the context of the cost of defending the department against one frivolous lawsuit or complaint,” said Cst. Mike Klein-Beekman, Oak Bay PD, Victoria, BC. Other agencies concur: “The durability of the VIDMICs and the ease of use make them a great tool for law enforcement,” commented Lt. Randy D. Leng, St. Joseph Township PD, St. Joseph, Mich.
“Our officers greatly benefit by having video and audio capabilities available to them at any time,” said Lonnie Cook, Chief of Police at the Laredo Independent School District Police Department. “Because the camera is inside the shoulder microphone, nothing extra is added to the uniform. We’ve found that when people know we are using video technology, it has a tendency to immediately diffuse tense situations as well as providing irrefutable evidence of what happened.”
The VIEVU PVR-LE2 is a wearable video recording device designed specifically for use by law enforcement. The unit attaches to an officer’s uniform using a tri-clip design, and records police activity from the officer’s perspective. Video documentation is captured that the officer can use in reporting and as evidence for later use in court. Traditional in-car systems only capture what happens near the patrol car. Officers know most police work occurs away from their car, inside businesses, homes, schools, etc.
VIEVU’s PVR-LE2 allows officers to capture video evidence of all their police activities. The video files are easily transferred to a PC, via the VIEVU VERIPATROL software, by connecting the device to a computer. The transfer occurs automatically. Once downloaded, the officer can view the video files to aid in reporting. The software prevents tampering with any video file and provides a chain of evidence log.
Additional features include: quality VGA 640x480 video; rugged, rubberized case for durability; Full color video and clear audio; date and time stamp on video (GMT); over four hours of recording time; low memory LED indicator; low battery LED indicator; secure software; 71-degree field of view; temperproof case.
VIEVU’s PVR-LE2 weighs approximately 3.5 ounces and measures approximately 3 feet x 2 feet x .75 feet. The tri-clip design enables attachment virtually anywhere on an officer’s body. It’s also waterproof for use in inclement weather and the green design meets RoHS, WEEE standards. In addition, the ON/OFF switch provides lens protection. Users can download to PC via USB cable. Requirements include Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Vista. The PVR-LE2 is ideal for professional law enforcement users because it meets IACP standards.
VIEVU PVR-LE2 is currently being used in over 800 agencies nationwide and multiple international countries. “I think the smartest piece of equipment an officer can carry, other than a firearm, is the VIEVU device,” stated Retired Sgt. Ron McCarthy, LAPD SWAT. Other agencies like the VIEVU PVR-LE2 as well: “After trying a demo unit, all of our detectives wanted one. We were so impressed that we bought the demo and are ordering several more,” stated Captain Ken Bernardi, Patrol Command, Shepherdsville, Ky.
WatchGuard Video’s CopVu™ wearable video camera for law enforcement includes CommandVu™ software for secure downloading and file management. The wire-free video camera allows officers to simply clip on the camera and go—without complicated pieces, in one moving part. CopVu allows officers to capture their perspective while still doing their jobs.
Additional features of CopVu include: rubber over-molded housing; completely wire free; USB interface; rotating garment clip; built-in microphone; water resistant; sliding on/off switch provides lens protection.
CopVu technical specs include: four-hour recording time; four-hour battery life; fully charged in less than three hours; digital signature security; VGA 640x480 resolution; 30 frames per second; waterproof (IPX5); dimensions are 3 inches x 2 inches x .75 inches.
The CommandVu software application features one-touch transfer of video from camera; review video and make copies; assign user permissions and access; set custom video retention periods; securely manage files; easily add and remove users from the system; assign specific cameras to officers; maintain master log of chain-of-custody; add comments to video files; single-seat or network applications available.
The Pike County Sheriff’s Department in Pittsfield, Ill., praised WatchGuard’s CopVu: “The CopVu system is outstanding and a great benefit to law enforcement and the court system,” stated Deputy Samuel Ferguson.
Jennifer Gavigan is the Managing Editor for LAW and ORDER, Police Fleet Manager and Tactical Response. She can be reached at email@example.com.