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5 reasons why a police department needs an in-car video system

Police dash cams have assisted agencies across the country in developing community trust through transparency, as well as enhance officer safety


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5 reasons why a police department needs an in-car video system

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Police dash cam systems are prevalent in many police departments. These devices have assisted agencies across the country in developing community trust through transparency, as well as enhance officer safety.

Here are five reasons to install an in-car video system in your police department’s vehicles: 

1. Dash cams enhance police officer safety

The ability to slow video frames down is a helpful teaching tool. (Image/dwightsghost via Flickr)
The ability to slow video frames down is a helpful teaching tool. (Image/dwightsghost via Flickr)

Implementing an in-car video system is one way to maintain the integrity and safety of police officers. Prior to dash cam installation, what happened in a situation boiled down to the officer’s word against the subject’s word. Having undeniable evidence recorded by a dash cam can solidify what happened in a questionable event.

The presence of an in-car video system protects both the officer and their agency. Detective Corporal Bryan DuBois of the Lubbock Police Department (LPD) in Lubbock, Texas, says officers are much more self-aware of their actions with the use of cameras. An officer is more likely to take their time to assess their approach to a situation.

2. Dash cams reduce police department liability

The initial installation costs of unit cameras easily pay off in the long run.

If an officer is presented with a confrontational situation, they can utilize their unit cam to film the entire situation. By providing real-time video footage, a department may avoid potential lawsuits.

Detective DuBois says video footage can help to corroborate a civilian complaint or vindicate an untrue version of events. Since what you see is what you get, this can reduce erroneous allegations.

3. Dash cams provide transparency for the community

For those departments who use dash cams every day, courts often request this footage as evidence. In addition, if the community is aware of the use of dash cams within their police department, it can help citizens better understand police situations. This also creates trust between the community and their local police department, as citizens often believe that if their police officers are being filmed, they will not hide anything.

Detective DuBois says video footage is an excellent way to show the public what events take place leading up to various situations. The ability to show the back story of an incident reveals much to the public and allows them to be more understanding toward officers’ actions.

4. Dash cam video evidence improves conviction rates

The use of dash cams has increased conviction rates for most cases. Officers may now collect any evidence of value and still have video as an additional piece of evidence for cases.

In some instances where there is no other evidence collected, the unit cam remains as a source of evidentiary value. In most cases, juries appreciate the ability to review dash cam footage so they have the clearest perception of the events in question. This may also provide a more solid account and, in turn, help the police officer win their case.

5. Dash cam videos can be used for police officer training

Each situation encountered and recorded may be used as a tool for training police academy recruits, new police officers and veteran cops.

Departments can take advantage of dash cam video to demonstrate good and bad police actions. By reviewing video footage police officers can learn from mistakes, as well as view positive behavior and successful police tactics.

Detective DuBois says video footage allows officers to assess the response to a specific situation and use it to make integral improvements in regard to officer safety. This type of review may also help police officers understand what could have been done to make a situation better.

Additionally, the ability to slow video frames down is an equally helpful teaching tool. DuBois says whether it is a use of force incident, or an uneventful traffic stop, viewing a recording in this can only enhance an officer’s knowledge and perspective.

Conclusion

As a whole, in-car video systems are also convenient. Most are equipped in such a way that once police officers are on their agency’s property, they can instantly upload their unit camera footage to the agency’s cloud. Numerous software systems are designed especially for this purpose. Having valuable evidence such as video is one way for police officers to maintain integrity with the visuals to back up their actions.

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