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Putting video walkthroughs into the hands of police

When police in Mumbai responded to many of the locations hit in the 2008 terror attacks that ravaged that city for three full days, they had literally no idea what the interior of the building even looked like — let alone what areas were most likely to hide potential dangers. The New York City police department has famously created a deep catalog of walkthrough videos — at considerable expense to be sure — of countless buildings it deems to be potential terror targets.

In the event that a critical incident — active shooter, barricaded suspect, hostage situation, or terrorist attack — happens at one of those locations, this video could prove invaluable to incident commanders at the command post and officers making entry to the building.

How can we apply this concept to the benefit of smaller police agencies that lack the financial resources of a city like New York? Simple: Do video walkthroughs in your jurisdiction, upload those videos to BLUtube, and share them with the officers in your department (as well as with officers from neighboring areas likely to respond to a mutual aid call).

Here is my five-step process, repurposing the well-known acronym “POTUS.” Check it out:

1.) Please begin by getting permission from your Chief — this enterprise is pointless if you are later told that these files cannot be used when lives are at stake.
2.) Obtain permission (in writing!) from the property owners that they want to have their facility toured, recorded, and added to your PD’s catalog of videos.
3.) Try to use a good-quality camera — I like the GoPro HERO, which uses an HD “fisheye” lens that captures the periphery, but there are other great options, and be certain to keep your videos short (about five minutes is optimal).
4.) Upload your videos to BLUtube, setting them as secure, LEO-only so the bad guys don’t see them (I suppose that you can also use YouTube, but I’m far less familiar that than I am with BLUtube).
5.) Sertify (yeah, I know that’s misspelled, but I needed that ‘s’!) that all the officers who might need to access these videos have a Smartphone (and a network like 4G LTE) capable of displaying video and make sure that they view these resources BEFORE any sort of an event happens. They probably will not have five minutes to watch your video when the bullets start flying!

There are a variety of things you could do to enhance your videos. Naturally, you could add verbal commentary either by the officers doing the videotaping, or by the facilities manager or building maintenance person (nobody knows a building better than the janitor!). You could add video captures of the floor plans or aerial imagery from Google Earth or MapQuest.

The important thing is that your walkthroughs become useful to more than just the person who walked the building. Putting this information into the hands of the police leaders and police officers at the scene is where the future is taking us. Fortunately, getting ahead of the curve on this one is not expensive or difficult!

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