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Whether video, image-only, or audio-only, this video and


audio data is evidence, and should be treated just as impor- tantly. For police accountability reasons, you simply cannot have your system’s lack of reliability challenged in court. Re- member due diligence. Network with other police departments. Look at the up-time percentage of in-car video systems. None are 100 percent, but some are much closer to it than others.


System Integrity As evidence, the system handling the video data must provide a simple and clean solution from vehicle to station to storage to court. Evidence Chain of Custody (COC) is under more scrutiny now than ever. Your system must capture good clear audio/video and then get it back to the station or storage facil- ity with little or no offi cer intervention. Ideally, the offi cer driving the vehicle with the in-car


video solution must never have the ability to alter the video evidence anywhere along the Chain of Custody. Wireless downloads at the station or city fueling stations should be considered so the evidence is passed down the COC without anyone ever laying a hand on it. Can your vendor come to court on your behalf and testify as an expert to say no one tampered with the evidence, that no one shut the camera off, that no one erased something?


Vendor Integrity Vendors who weren’t even involved in video technology are now offering body-worn cameras and/or in-car video solu- tions. Do your homework. Look around at what others are using. Look at the long term if a vendor offers free hardware with an annual or monthly support fee. Nobody gives out truly free or low-cost video systems. Being supportive in the fi rst year may not mean long-term support. Watch for balloon pay- ments after the free or trial period. What experiences have other agencies had with the vendors


you are considering? There are video vendors who have been around for years and will be around for years to come. They may be ones who offer a fully integrated body-worn camera, in-car video, and in-building solutions that use the same soft- ware, storage and support.


Check References Don’t reinvent the wheel and think twice about being the test agency for a new product. Speak to a number of different agen- cies using the in-car video solutions. When you do research, you will obviously speak with their IT people, but make sure you also spend time with the front-line users. Those are the people who will make or break an in-car video solution. They give the best, most honest feedback an evaluator can get. If the in-car video solution isn’t working, they will tell you; they will also tell you what is good about it, too. Go through the entire system as it functions from the very beginning to the very end. See how video is passed through the COC and speak to the people responsible for storage and producing that evidence for court. When they had issues, and they will have had them, how did that vendor handle it? Do things get fi xed or are they told, “We have a fi x for that, it’s in the next release coming in a year.”?


The proposed in-car camera system must be tested by a variety of patrol officers.


Field Testing All technology deployed in a police vehicle must be tested in an on-duty, patrol vehicle with real-world testing subjects. Testing doesn’t mean a demo at the vendor’s building, or in a convention center booth with a pre-canned test environment. Testing means you set up a small test group of your offi cers involving well-respected front-line offi cers from all age groups and levels of technology adaptation. Testing must include the entire solution. Where is it placed


in the vehicle? Does it affect any of the other upfi tted products? Do you get image distortion when the Land Mobile Radio is in ‘transmit’ mode? Do the front-line offi cers approve of the confi guration and will you have their buy-in? Next, you need to transfer and store the evidence with the fi nal test being the recovery of a specifi c date and time and software manipula- tion for court release. Who is doing that and is the software user-friendly?


Video Storage Considerations What about the new IT hardware costs that go along with stor- ing huge amounts of HD video? Yes, each vendor has com- pression software, but where exactly does it go? When the video is downloaded, does your vendor store the video in a cloud-based storage solution? So whose video is it now when your vendor has physical custody of that video? When you need it for court, who retrieves it and what are the associated costs for this? Video is only good until it’s challenged in court. To ensure evidentiary integrity, who comes to court to testify the video is a true and accurate, unaltered version of the video, their expert or yours? Who is paying for that guy, too? If you choose a vendor today and in two years change vendors,


who owns the video data now—the vendor or you? If it is them, how much will it cost to get it back? If you get it back free, do you need their software to view it? Who then pays to update and sup- port their legacy software if you’re now with a new vendor?


Image/Audio Quality As critical evidence with far-reaching ramifi cations, video should be the best you can get. For all practical purposes, the best today means HD video, or maybe encrypted MPEG4 for-


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