|In our continued effort to bring
you the most comprehensive coverage in the field of law enforcement
and law enforcement issues, PoliceOne is working with Police Magazine
to publish many of their news and feature content on PoliceOne.com.
Visit the Police Magazine web
site here, subscribe to the print version of the magazine, click here.
Video cameras aren't used just to document crime scenes. Many
agencies utilize video cameras in patrol cars, especially traffic and
Video can be used in court to show that standard field sobriety tests
were administered properly and why the driver failed the roadside
maneuvers. Interview and interrogation rooms at police departments
are often set up with covert video and audio.
The advantage of a covert installation is that oftentimes suspects,
victims, and witnesses are less likely to speak openly if they are
aware that the interview is recorded. Pinhole cameras can be
purchased for as little as $25. These cameras are very small and
concealable. The video quality is good, but because the optics are so
small--not much bigger than the diameter of a pin--the lenses suffer
from some amount of distortion.
The camera can be installed in a false thermostat or any other object
likely to be on a wall. The video output is run to a separate
location where monitors and recording equipment are located. Other
detectives, prosecutors, and even defense attorneys can watch the
interview in real time. The benefits are large and the cost is small
to set up an interview room with covert video.
Another option is a pinhole camera and wireless transmitter.
Camera/transmitter combinations are available concealed in common
household items such as alarm clocks, portable radios, wall-mounted
clocks, and smoke detectors. The video signal is transmitted to a
receiver located at a remote location. The video receiver is
connected to a video recording device, such as a VHS or Hi8 VCR or
even into the analog inputs on a digital camcorder.
The primary advantage is that the video is transmitted over the
airwaves so no wires need to be installed between the camera and the
recording device. The range of these 2.4-gigahertz FM systems is at
least a few hundred feet and can be extended to about half a mile
with additional antennas.
The cost is low, starting at about $300 for the camera, transmitter,
and receiver. Longer ranges--often a number of miles--can be
achieved, but the cost is around $3,000. In situations where wireless
video is not practical, a small video camera can be connected to a
miniature Hi8 or Digital8 recorder.
The recorder is placed in a backpack or fanny pack and the camera is
secreted on the undercover officer. This rig is great for monitoring
and recording protests or other mass demonstrations because it allows
for freedom of movement and has no distance restrictions.
Cameras can also be installed in remote locations where video would
greatly increase the chance of apprehending the suspect, such as a
residence that is repeatedly burglarized. This self-contained
installation can include any type of small video camera, such as a
wireless alarm clock or a wired micro camera concealed anywhere
within the room.
The video signal is transmitted or run to a device called a VMD or
video motion detector. The VMD is connected to a recording device
such as an Exxis Spycorder, a special VCR that connects to a VMD. The
VMD triggers the VCR to record when the camera detects movement.
The operator can identify up to four areas in the image where
movement is likely to occur, such as a hallway or window, or simply
along the left and right side of the image frame. When an object
moves across the highlighted areas, the VMD tells the VCR to record
the scene for a specified number of minutes. The advantage is that
one tape can last for weeks in a low traffic area, because the unit
does not record continuously. A VMD starts at about $200 and a
Spycorder VCR is about $300.
This article is reprinted with permission from Police Magazine,
online at www.PoliceMag.com.
Not to be reprinted or published without the express consent of www.PoliceMag.com.