Photo courtesy of Fortuna (Calif.) PD.
The Fortuna (Calif.) Police Department has equipped several of its officers with an "all in one" communication device called the VICMIC that captures audio, video and still photos, according to an agency press release.
The Fortuna PD deployed the communications device as "a crucial risk-management tool that is integrated into an officer's portable radio microphone."
The device can record up to three hours of audio and full-color video, as well as still photographs. The agency purchased four VIDMIC devices with funding from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant.
A study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) found that when video of an incident was available, the video record exonerated officers of allegations more than 96 percent of the time.
The study also revealed that video provided other significant monetary and efficiency benefits — fewer frivolous lawsuits, reduced agency liability, increased likelihood of prosecution, reduced court-appearance time for officers, improved community and media perceptions of police, enhanced officer safety, enhanced in-service training (post-incident review of the video), enhanced officer performance and professionalism, simplified incident review, and less time spent on written reports through the precise documentation of citizen behavior and officer conduct.
The Fortuna PD has equipped several of its patrol vehicles with digital video cameras with remote microphones. However, it has been found that these systems do have limitations. They can't record video of an officer in a residence, in the back yard or down the dark alley.
The VICMIC video footage is stamped with a date and time. Officers transfer electronic files from the device to be preserved as chain of evidence that can't be deleted.