The Benefits of Police Body Cameras
From small-town police departments to large federal agencies, forces across the country are equipping their officers with body cameras. Lightweight and wearable, the devices are designed for use by mission-critical personnel in contact with the public. Here we explore the numerous reasons why police should wear body cameras, and how new technology can help to overcome some of the challenges they pose.
What are the pros and cons of police body cameras?
An unbiased witness at every incident, providing dependency and efficiency in police operations, there are numerous benefits of police body cameras.
PRO - Deterring criminal behavior
As the public’s knowledge of body cameras increases and they become aware of the transparency and accountability they afford officers, studies have shown that their presence in a police incident can significantly deter violent and aggressive acts against them. This greatly enhances officer safety and morale, as well as community trust and transparency.
Body cameras attach securely to an officer's uniform, but should adverse action be taken against them, their robust design means they can still capture a quality stream of information. This footage is securely stored, so it can’t be intercepted or tampered with.
PRO - Capturing every encounter
Recording incidents as they unfold, body cameras provide an unbiased independent witness - a first-hand account essential in police operations. This improves both officer safety and public confidence.
PRO - Reducing administrative demands
Increasingly, body cameras are being used to record police interviews, then in conjunction with the appropriate software, the resulting footage is automatically transcribed into a verbal testimony. This saves officers a vast amount of time, time which can be better spent in the community.
However, as police forces come to depend on body cameras to protect both officers and the needs of their community, they present issues agencies are looking to overcome.
CON - Basic design
Certain body cameras lack the capabilities you’d expect from mission-critical technology, these include:
Poor battery power: In the midst of a mission, the last thing law enforcers need is their body camera’s battery failing. With 12-hour shifts the norm in public safety, a leading limitation of many body cameras is that their battery doesn't last a full working day.
Inadequate coverage and poor footage quality: Certain body cameras lack the capabilities to be able to retrieve video in poor conditions, including low light and harsh weather. Similarly, certain models are unable to record in areas of poor coverage, such as large buildings like schools or hospitals.
Insufficient data storage: As an essential tool in a law enforcer’s kit, body cameras are worn for a considerable length of time. Some models lack the storage space to save the amount of data they capture.
CON - Limited collaboration capabilities
Currently, many body cameras in use in public safety don’t include location views. Dispatchers can’t remotely monitor the whereabouts of officers nor view the scene from their cameras, reducing officer and citizen safety.
CON - The camera isn’t continuous
When a situation rapidly escalates, this can jeopardize an officer’s ability to activate their camera quickly enough. There’s a growing need for a device that records without being initiated by the user.
How do police body cameras increase safety?
Where some forces have encountered the limitations of the technology, those employing Motorola Solutions’ state-of-the-art body cameras are experiencing numerous benefits, including streamlined operations, as well as improved connectivity, accountability and security.
Designed specifically for use by law enforcers, models including the V700 LTE body camera and the VB400 body camera maintain reliable connections throughout an extended shift. In recognition of law enforcement budgets, this solution can be leveraged as a video-as-a-service solution, from as little as $29 a month.
Built to reflect the intensity of a police shift, the V700’s batteries have extended life, and should they deplete whilst out in the field, they can be easily and instantly switched. It also includes extensive storage capabilities.
The body cameras’ noise-canceling microphones capture clear video and audio - even in low light conditions and extreme weather. The resulting footage provides evidence precise enough to be admissible in court.
Facilitates improved working synergies
The superior quality footage body cameras seize has a positive impact across the force. As an incident unfolds, video can be live-streamed to leaders and other agencies - both in real-time or after the fact, improving collaborative decision-making in the moment.
Further advancing frontline safety, body cameras improve connectivity between officers and dispatch. With CommandCentral Aware, personnel in the control room can share the view of the body camera wearer, and better support their mission. Using advanced GPS technology (which gives the cameras extensive coverage) they can monitor the whereabouts of officers and share that information with other team members, including EMS personnel - relaying substantial information across teams, and sending backup where necessary. This footage also provides powerful training material which on revision, can strengthen officer performance.
Continuous recording capabilities
When a life-threatening incident occurs and there isn’t enough time to initiate a body camera recording, Motorola Solutions' patented Record-After-the-Fact™ feature - included in the V700 body camera - has officers covered. Days after an incident, footage can be accessed from the camera’s memory - even when a recording wasn’t initiated.
Our body cameras can also be triggered to automatically start recording video from the M500 in-car video system and your police radio, as well as when your weapon has been unholstered. Holster Aware™, this critical Motorola Solutions patented feature, is an easy-to-install sensor that pairs with the V700 and VB400 body cameras.
Empowering law enforcement agencies
Body cameras have the ability to foster improved community trust whilst greatly improving officer safety. Effective deterrents of adverse behavior, they are rapidly becoming one of the essential tools relied on by numerous police services across the US.
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