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August 29, 2012
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Facebook Forum: 12 ways video 'saved your bacon'

Police video cameras are little truth detectors, digital sentinels, protectors of the protectors — here are the moments they've helped you

We’ve come a long way from the first days in which video played a part in the everyday workings of American law enforcement. The first time cameras were mounted to a squad car’s dashboard it was wired to a bulky VHS recorder in the trunk. Today we have digital cameras that affix to your shirt or your sunglasses, and those dash-cam units are smaller than whatever “Beefy Burger” you ate last time you were 10-7.

Police video cameras are little truth detectors, digital sentinels, protectors of the protectors. With very few exceptions, when a complaint is lodged against and officer, and that officer’s actions were recorded with one of these vanguard devices, the officer is vindicated, and the violator is facing additional charges.

For our latest in our 2012 Featured Product Focus series, we asked our Facebook fans to tell us about the moments video technology helped them and their department. Share your own stories in the member comments below.

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1.) I worked for a city PD about 15 years ago. The local jail did not house females and I had to transport a woman about 50 miles to the next adjoining county with room. We had just got a Kustom Signal Eyewitness VHS system in my cruiser. I turned the camera around and pressed record as we left the jail en route to the other county. A few days after her release, the woman filed a complaint that I sexually assaulted her on the road trip. The video tape was all it took to quickly exonerate me and add to her charges! — Scott Eveland

2.) Our body-mic and in-car cameras have not only protected us from bogus complaints, but have also provided training on tactics and served as learning tools. Also, the DA loves them, especially on DWI cases. — Curtis Callender

3.) Every time someone challenges a ticket and says they were berated and cursed at. Each time it was the ticketed doing the cursing. Amazing how bad their memory is... — Jason Hancock

4.) It's not your typical dash-cam; however, the GloCam by GloNex is a very handy training tool when it comes to capturing driving errors of recruits during the academy. We use the G2 model with two cameras, one in front and one in rear, capturing both the front of the vehicle and the actions of the driver and interior compartment. A very good addition to training with those “unwilling to drop bad habit” drivers. — Jonathan Midgett

5.)  When I was still very early in my career, I was involved in a suicide by cop. The subject kept yelling for us to shoot him while holding a knife. The entire incident was captured on the squad's wireless pocket mic I had completely forgotten about. We were heard immediately calling for medical and all of the life saving attempts we made were on the recording. While the video rolled, it proved all the details of the incident and helped clear those involved quickly. — Bradley Tremblay

6.) I rolled upon a rape victim dumped on the roadway. My dash cam would not have picked up much detail but my body cam was excellent. It was the body cam that the DDA attributed to the jury seeing first hand the condition of the victim at the time she was dumped. It was this reason, probably more than anything else, why we got a conviction. Everyone did a great job but the body cam showed things none of us could have done without it. I am the only officer in my dept. who wears one and I am convinced it is the way of the future. — Del Pickney

7.)  I wear an HD body camera at all times that I turn on whenever I'm speaking with the public. Car stops, domestics, OUIs, etc. It can save you a HUGE hassle in court 99.9% of the time. Also, in the unfortunate event that I go down, it will help to reveal the identity of the person. This piece of equipment comes in a close second to my gun, TASER and verbal judo! — Thomas Cory 

8.) I was five months out of the academy and two months out on my own from just completing FTO training. Long story short, I had been having troubles with my camera but this day it was actually working perfectly. Was on traffic stop and stopped that stop to investigate someone burning off their tires. Got into my vehicle and saw the vehicle going backwards through downtown in excess of 30mph. Vehicle went about four blocks in reverse before turning around and taking off. Began pursuit with the vehicle. Vehicle ended up going straight off a curved highway, barrel rolled, and ejected the driver, killing him. ‘Bout three months later, grand jury convened and the video was literally worth a thousand words... saved me and my department from any wrongdoing as video showed we did everything correctly and to policy. — Cameron Hale

9.)  Urinating? No. I was just pouring out my beer...I mean my Coke. — Chuck Taylor

10.) The other night, I was arresting a young female my age for DUI. She was wearing a sun dress, so I was very careful with the pat-down search before cuffing/securing her in the back seat. Then her cell phone started ringing from her cleavage and I told her I needed to take the cell phone from her. While she was reaching to grab it (still handcuffed, she was very flexible apparently) she started yelling “stop touching my breasts. Thankfully, I have a Watchguard DV-1 which has a covert mode that does a split screen video shot — out the front windshield and the back seat. I'm sure this will save me from any accusations she could potentially make. Meanwhile she had no idea she was even being recorded. — John Breault

11.) I had a person from Mexico speak English to me during my interrogation and for some reason only could speak Spanish in court. The defense made a motion to throw out my Miranda since he “did not understand.” Officers in the jail wore a video microphone and captured him speaking only English. We played it in court and the judge told the interpreter to stop since the defendant spoke and understood English. The defense attorney just put his head in his hands and withdrew the motion. They plead as charged. — Allen Kisler

12.) I had a party file a complaint against me after issuing him his summons for various traffic violations. The video of the stop was reviewed and I was found to have done nothing wrong (which I already knew). — Geoff Heil




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