This is pretty cool: digital video recorders in police cars.
The systems cost from $7,000 to $10,000 per car, about the same as traditional analog video systems. With analog, however, there's the added expense of storing hundreds or thousands of video tapes taken during domestic disputes, traffic violations and drug busts.
Tyler police said they expect to save about $50,000 a year in labor, management and supply costs with the new system.
``Any time you have absolute, concrete evidence that an incident happened as the officer says, that's a good thing,'' said Charley Wilkison, political and legislative director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. The lobbying group represents more than 100 police unions across the state.
An added bonus for officers is that information, from driver's license data to satellite GPS coordinates, can be tagged to the video, making it easy to search from officers' desktop computers.
And since it's searchable, police don't have to wade through hours of video tape cassettes to find a particular incident.
The video is saved to a high capacity computer server, eliminating the need for a staff of clerical workers and a separate storage room to file and retrieve stacks of video tapes.
In the year since the system was deployed in Yakima, it has proven especially effective in protecting police from lawsuits and complaints against officers, Capt. Jeff Schneider said.
``They tend not to go to court a whole lot once the defense looks at the video tape,'' he said.