July 09, 2004
TiVo for the police

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.

Though they don;t quote anyone in the defense bar, that group of people also tends to support this sort of thing. Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft is a big supporter of videotaping interrogations, for the simple reason that as with DVRs in the police vehicles, it eliminates the he-said/she-said aspect. Just as an arrestee is less likely to file a frivolous complaint if he or she knows the whole incident is on video, a cop is less likely to disregard prcedures when the camera is on. It's a win-win. Via Technology Review.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 09, 2004 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack

Pretty cool. I wonder what safeguards they'll have to prevent police and overzealous prosecutors from editing the video, though.

Posted by: Tim on July 9, 2004 11:55 AM