In-vehicle dash cams are hardly a new invention. But, thanks to rapidly improving technology and lower costs, they have been growing in popularity with motorists. However, despite the obvious benefits that in-vehicle video surveillance would offer to law enforcement officers, drive recorders are still not standard issue across the world’s police forces.
While the reasons can be political, legal, financial or technical, police forces that fail to adopt this technology are missing an essential tool for deterring and investigating crime. Equipping an entire fleet with cameras has a multitude of benefits which can contribute to improved force performance and operating efficiency.
Many commercial businesses have already seen significant ROI from employing fleet drive recorder technology, and budget-stretched police departments are under the same pressures to drive cost savings and improve performance. Let’s explore how in-vehicle drive recording technology is an investment that police departments can no longer afford to ignore.
Bring Policing into Sharper Focus
Firstly, it’s worth highlighting just how far drive recorder technology has advanced since the early days of VGA dash cams with poor-quality sensors. Most cameras now record Full HD (1080p) video at up to fifty frames per second, which provides a high definition record of incidents.
Modern drive recorders also support HDR (High Dynamic Range) recording. This allows important details to be captured across a wide range of lighting conditions, so that vital evidence doesn’t get lost in shadows or become washed out. Paired with infra-red LEDs, advanced dashboard cameras can even capture detailed footage at night.
For police forces, dual camera drive recorders are especially beneficial. The outside facing camera covers the road ahead, recording incidents as well as footage of the crime scene. Just as importantly, the interior facing camera provides important surveillance of offenders in custody as well as police officer conduct.
The quantity and quality of the evidence gathered from modern drive recorders helps officers to secure convictions. This not only improves their effectiveness, but the overall performance of the department, too. At a time when budgets are being squeezed and targets raised, the use of drive recorders is an easy win for police departments.
Beyond the Obvious
So far, so obvious, but the benefits of drive recording technology to police departments go much further than mere evidence gathering. Multiple studies suggest that CCTV and other recording technology has a positive effect on behaviour, and this applies both to police officers and the public with whom they interact.
A study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) reported that in-car video systems resulted in greater professionalism by police and fewer complaints against them by members of the public. The presence of video recording devices was found to de-escalate tensions, with some officers reporting that both they and the public remained more courteous when being filmed.
Further, the footage captured can be invaluable in maintaining and improving police standards, with video analysis providing useful insights into disciplinary issues and training needs. It can also be key to maintaining a positive relationship with the community, allowing for greater policy accountability and transparency. In addition, by establishing the irrefutable facts of an arrest, drive recorder footage protects both officers and the public from false accusations.
In 95% of complaint cases reported in the IACP study, grievances were not sustained by video evidence. Supervisors noted that in at least half of cases, when complainants were made aware of the video, the complaint was withdrawn. This can not only provide significant savings in administrative and legal costs, but it also ensures the public image of the department is preserved by preventing negative media attention.
Read more about the community benefits of police dash cams in part one – How Police Drive Recorders Improve Community Safety and Police Accountability
On-line of Duty
Beyond front-line policing and reputation, the latest drive recorders provide police forces with the possibility to enhance operational efficiency for the fleet, too.
With CAN bus integration, advanced drive recorders can provide vehicle telematics data ranging from engine speed to tire pressures. Cloud-integrated drive recorders can feed-back this data to police department headquarters in real-time through 4G wireless connectivity. This data is valuable in planning service intervals and diagnosing or pre-empting potential maintenance issues with police cars. By tackling issues proactively, savings can be made both in terms of maintenance and vehicle down time.
Additionally, for driver-training managers, vehicle speed, g-force and GPS data can be paired with the accompanying video recordings to assess driver performance and design more effective training programs. This helps to reduce strain on vehicles, improve success rates in terms of pursuits, and reduce costly accidents.
Previously, integrating such a system would have been time-consuming, expensive, and required the use of expert contractors. But, thanks to Microsoft IoT Plug-and-Play, it’s now easy for forces to integrate certified products into Microsoft Azure cloud solutions without writing custom code. Control rooms can benefit from a real-time cloud link to their vehicles, enabling intelligent cost savings to be made based on rich-data analytics.
A Connected Force is More Efficient
This connected approach can bring an additional boost to the efficiency and effectiveness of police operations. It gives supervisors another way to monitor officers and assess their situations, allowing a more proactive approach to managing units and allocating backup. The ability to upload video remotely, without needing to wait for a vehicle to return to base, could save hours in time-critical investigations, potentially reducing the time needed to charge suspects or diffuse incidents in the community.
Today’s drive recorders offer police a mature and feature-rich way to supervise and support officers out on the road. Cloud-connection, real-time video, communication and vehicle diagnostics improve officer performance, while providing documentation that protects both the police and the public. It’s a tool that modern police forces simply can’t afford to do without.
VIA recently launched the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder, a full-featured, compact dual camera 1080p driver recorder that is available with custom software support and seamless cloud integration. It’s unobtrusive and compact design includes GPS support with live tracking using a customizable app, a 3-axis G-sensor and four infra-red LEDs that ensure a clear video stream of the vehicle’s interior at all times. In short, the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder is highly suited for deployment in Law Enforcement vehicles.
Learn more about the VIA Mobile360 D700 Drive Recorder here.
You can also watch this short introductory video: