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How to buy video surveillance equipment

As more states require electronic recording of criminal interrogations, police departments are responding by outfitting their interview rooms with the latest digital video recording technology. But not all systems are alike. Here are the top three things to consider when choosing the most effective equipment for your interrogation room:

1. Make Sure the System Records Audio in Stereo
While seeing an interrogation adds tremendous value, hearing every word of the testimony remains paramount.

Interview rooms are far from acoustically perfect, and the only way to accurately capture every word is to record the audio in stereo. But many digital video recording systems on the market today only offer single channel audio, which is often difficult to hear and understand.

Recall Technologies, Inc. Interrogator™ is one system that records its audio in stereo. The company produced the first PC-based wire tap system over 15 years ago and continues to focus on high-quality audio in all of its equipment.

2. Demand Audio and Video in Perfect Synchronization
“In today’s world, the expectation on law enforcement is different. We need top-end video and audio of our interviews. The video needs to be clear and depict everything that takes place in the room—and it’s equally important to have clear, synchronized audio to go along with it,” says Mark Mynheir, a homicide detective in Palm Bay, FL.

Systems with perfect synchronization of audio and video make it possible for everyone involved in the case to completely analyze the interrogation. Police officers, attorneys and even jurors get the “full picture” when they can accurately see and hear the testimony and are able to analyze the non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and other subtle nuances that can really shed light on the truthfulness of a testimony and help both defense and prosecutors build their case in the courtroom.

High quality video recordings are good for victim interviews, too and can potentially be used in place of a live courtroom testimony – which can be stressful for children or the elderly.

3. “Cop Friendly” Usability is Key
Detective Mynheir says that using a plug-and-play system like the Interrogator™ makes it easy for to him to do his job and focus on the interview without worrying about the technical aspects of the recording equipment.

“We didn’t need a training session to use it. The first time I encountered it, I just read the brief instructions, pressed the button and started going. I especially like the fact that you can add notes in the beginning, like your name, the suspect’s name and the case number. This keeps us organized and makes it possible for us to find the information six months down the road—or whenever we need to access it,” says Mynheir.

Mynheir also likes the fact that the system offers dual DVD recordings that are available immediately after the interview and he likes the safety of the hard disk backup storage.

“We automatically have a copy for the state attorney’s office and a copy for evidence. Before we had the Interrogator™, we had to physically make copies on a different machine. The system is designed to back up your recordings in case anything happens. The potential to lose a DVD is always there but with the Interrogator you can retrieve it from the hard drive, which is a huge advantage for us. The Interrogator is truly ‘cop friendly’.”

Any other suggestions? Anything we missed in the list above? Leave a comment below or email products@policeone.com with your feedback.

For more information about interrogation video equipment, please contact Recall Technologies, Inc. at 321-952-4422 or visit www.recalltech.com.

Adam Rosenthal is a freelance writer living in Burbank, California.

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