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Brian Cain

Brian Cain

Brian Cain is a sergeant with the Holly Springs (Ga.) Police Department, and is known as the "Millennial cop" on Twitter. He has been in law enforcement since 2000. He hosts and produces a podcast for Millennials in law enforcement.

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Michael Bostic

Michael Bostic

Mike Bostic, of Raytheon Corp.'s Civil Communication Solutions group, specializes in open architecture, systems integration of communications and data programs. Mike spent 34 years with the LAPD. He managed IT and facility development, as well as the SWAT Board of Inquiry, which developed new command-and-control systems.

What's Up With In-Car Video?

Connecting newer equipment with legacy systems can be challenging.

May 06, 2010  |  by Michael Bostic - Also by this author

As cities and counties struggle with demand for accountability in policing, in-car video systems seem an obvious and sensible solution. Unfortunately, they are not yet widely used because systems integration and durability issues with video systems available to police and sheriffs' departments have made effective implementation very challenging.

In Los Angeles, political action has pushed the call for in-car video since the tumultuous days of Rodney King nearly two decades ago. LAPD has certainly not dragged its feet on this project, but the older IT systems currently in use have created problems integrating the new video system into operations. The problem lies in connecting legacy and proprietary systems to newer, more sophisticated video systems.

Departments with more up-to-date IT systems still face another set of issues with in-car video. Earlier this year, I went on a ride-a-long with Newport Beach Police officers who have IT systems more modern than most, but their in-car DVD systems run into the same durability problems as many public safety technology products. Products initially work well, but the stress of continuous (24/7) use eventually causes them to break down. More durable military-grade systems are out there, but cities and counties don't have budgets or opportunities to purchase such systems.

Technology is never the limiting factor—capable systems exist now. Systems integration and cost planning must be well thought out to bring it to officers on the streets. Without this, the result could be disastrous. For example, Los Angeles purchased millions of dollars worth of in-car video equipment, but integrating it with current vehicles and department systems posed problems, and the department continues to struggle to make it all work together.

However, good news is on the horizon. IT professionals are starting to develop long-term plans that allow scalability and growth of systems. Such open-architecture models allow for future integration of components that may not even be available yet. This will hopefully remove many barriers currently in the path of agencies obtaining the systems they need.

Public safety officers are no doubt frustrated as political leaders ask for "go systems" without providing the leadership and funding necessary to make them happen. But this is changing too. As federal grant funding improves under stimulus plans, I believe more law enforcement agencies will have access to resources to improve systems to a level they can take pride in.

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Ima Leprechaun @ 11/9/2010 8:59 PM

Video has done a lot of good but I have some concerns with video. It gives a very narrow field of view. The camera cannot properly hear what is going on, smell the air or yield out of view events. The camera has no view of what is bearing down on the Police car from behind. I have heard judges say they wished a camera was in every car but there are some short comings that a camera cannot overcome. To me it is a double edged sword which can confuse the facts very easily. To judge a one demensional limited field of view to decide perceived officer infractions that the viewer cannot see is a problem to me. The camera cannot see the gun a suspect is holding in front of his chest as the officer appraches. The camera can distort actual the facts of an event. Too much emphasis is based upon a small box picture of events. I just worry about the lack of total information that a video of the events presents. I just have concerns about video that I never hear from administrators. While on camera you cannot be human or make one mistake or there goes your case so you have to be perfect 100% of the time. There was only one perfect human and you saw what they did to him and that was without video..

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