Integrated digital evidence tools improve officer safety and make better cases
A holistic system reduces the delays and pitfalls of mismatched technology
Sponsored by Motorola Solutions
PoliceOne BrandFocus Staff
Police officers like having access to the latest technology. They like it even more when all that technology works together seamlessly.
Too often, officers are forced to contend with equipment and systems furnished by different vendors, each of which has its own notions of what is convenient, necessary or procedurally proper. This increases the learning curve necessary to use the gear properly. It can also create logjams and hazards when officers have to deploy the gear under stress and with limited time.
The Motorola Solutions suite of products, from cameras and communications gear to evidence management tools, is an example of an integrated system intended to eliminate these mismatch pitfalls. Designed so that one element dovetails with the others, the integrated system enables collection and management of evidence to enhance case preparation and officer safety.
In a hypothetical scenario, patrol officer Jon Masters drives down a street of a residential neighborhood on his regular beat. The radio has been quiet, and he’s thinking about making a stop at a convenience store to check the welfare of the clerk, and maybe snag a cup of coffee.
He sees some movement at the side of a single-family residence. He’s not certain, but it looked as though someone might have been trying to pry off a window screen. He turns the patrol car into the driveway of the house to put the headlights on the alleyway and sees a man look up, then bolt toward the backyard.
Masters slaps the switch that activates his overhead emergency lights, then jumps out of the car to go in foot pursuit. He doesn’t have time to key his radio and report what he saw. Fortunately, the Motorola Sr600 camera mounted next to the car’s rearview mirror activated when he hit the roof lights. Had he not done that, opening the car door would have done the same thing. A 60-second pre-event buffer recording captured the prowler’s reaction to seeing the patrol car.
As Masters starts to run toward the back of the house, he reaches up to slide the switch that activates his Si500 Video Speaker Microphone (VSM) into record mode. The camera, integrated with the radio mic he has dangling from his uniform epaulet, starts to capture the action – both video and audio. A brief vibration from the VSM verifies it’s in record mode.
Officer Masters runs three times a week and is in good physical shape; the prowler isn’t. He’s reaching for the top of a 6-foot fence when Masters catches up to him, draws his sidearm and orders him to stop and show his hands. A Bluetooth sensor in Masters’ holster sends a signal to the Si500 VSM and notifies his dispatcher of his location and that he’s drawn his gun. The communications operator sees the alert on her display and immediately sends backup officers to aid Masters.
Suspect in custody
The prowler decides he’s outmatched and complies with Masters’ commands to lay down on the ground and put his hands behind his back. Masters quickly gets him handcuffed, then uses the VSM to report that he has a suspect in custody. He hears the acknowledgement through his attached earpiece. The sirens he heard coming toward him go quiet. Help is still coming, but they’re driving closer to the speed limit now.
Once the suspect has been frisked for weapons, Masters gets him on his feet and walks him back to the car. There, the man tells the officer that this is his house, and that he just forgot his key and was trying to get in via the side window. While they’re talking, a woman comes out of the house, taking in the scene. She says the suspect is her ex-husband, who has not lived at the house since some months prior to their divorce. He has been calling her and driving by the house frequently, despite a protective order she obtained after he battered her.
The VSM has captured all of this, including the conflicting story told by the suspect, the confirmation of an arrest warrant for stalking and the woman’s protective order.
Evidence collection and automatic upload
Additional tools in the suite help collect further evidence. The backup officer uses his smartphone camera to photograph the window screen that had been partially pried off. The Motorola evidence-grade camera app installed on the phone automatically tags the photos with date and location data and uploads the photos to the digital evidence management software, CommandCentral Vault, to be tagged with other evidence in the case.
As Masters pulls into the station parking lot to book the suspect, he sees the power LED on the Sr600 in car video camera system first turn yellow as it acquires the Wi-Fi signal from the station, then flash alternately green and blue as his video from the incident is uploaded to the CommandCentral Vault. The VSM video will be uploaded at the end of watch when Masters connects a USB cable to recharge and refresh the device.
All of this might still have been possible with equipment and software from different sources, but having the body-worn and in-car cameras, communication gear and evidence management tools designed and configured as a single integrated system helps ensure a better case for prosecution while giving officers the information they need to stay safe.
Download the Digital Evidence Ecosystem Brief from Motorola Solutions to learn more.