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Newport Beach PD Replaces 31 VHS In-car Video Systems with New Digital Systems

Kustom's Digital Eyewitness The Newport Beach, California Police Department has installed 31 new Kustom Signals' Digital Eyewitness in-car video systems to outfit their entire fleet. These replaced their existing Kustom Signals Eyewitness VHS systems which they have had since 1996. "The decision to move forward to a digital system was easily made. Our Kustom Signals VHS mobile video systems had served us well for a number of years, but it was time to replace them," said Lt. John Desmond, Newport Beach PD Support Services Commander. "Digital video has numerous advantages over VHS including superior video and audio recording and the ease of copying and transferring video files."

Newport Beach Police Department has utilized mobile in-car video for nearly nine years and they could foresee these digital systems helping them to continue their practice of recording all field contacts. According to Lt. Desmond, "Complaints and civil claims can be thoroughly investigated with video and audio evidence, reducing or eliminating frivolous allegations and legal fees; reports can be accurately written and documentation of events for courtroom testimony can often lead to adjudication without a trial."

To accommodate departmental preferences, Digital Eyewitness offers the capability to record to a DVD-RAM disc or removable hard drive (HDD). Both the DVD-RAM and HDD options include a proprietary time code software feature. If the evidence has been altered, a "tampered" notification will appear when the video is viewed, using special software. Newport Beach chose the DVD-RAM option because, according to Lt. Desmond, "It allows us to utilize the same handling and storage procedures we had in place during our long-term use of our VHS mobile video systems, which was so successful. With the DVD-RAM disc, there is no need to name files, swap out hard drives or download and store large amounts of data. All video storage can be maintained on the DVD-RAM disc, which is logged to an individual officer for a particular shift. Also, officers can remove the DVD-RAM from the system and take it into the station for review at any computer equipped with a DVD-RAM drive. Officers are not forced to review their videos from within their patrol vehicle, unless they choose to do so."

The Digital Eyewitness features a compact Sony color camera with 40:1 digital zoom and an optional covert rear-seat facing camera to capture evidence while suspects are detained in vehicle. Audio can be recorded from the transmitter worn by the officer and from the microphone located in the car. "We opted to purchase the rear-facing camera and in-car mic because we wanted to reduce or eliminate frivolous allegations against officers when transporting prisoners, as well as covertly record statements made by subjects detained in the back of the patrol vehicle," said Desmond.

The system's pre-event recording feature automatically captures up to three minutes of video before the recorder is activated. If an officer witnesses a suspect's vehicle crossing the center line or running a red light before the recorder is activated, this video evidence is automatically captured and recorded. "With our VHS mobile video system, our officers often remarked 'I wish I had that on video' after observing a particular incident. Now, with the pre-event recording feature, those same officers are capturing those events on video," said Lt. Desmond. "This feature is most often used for vehicle code violations and DUI driving."

When making their purchasing decision, Newport Beach decided to use the RFP (Request for Proposal) process to ensure they would receive a digital mobile video system that would not only meet their needs, but would prove to be reliable for many years. "With so many digital video systems on the market, and to be fiscally responsible with the tax payer's money, we carefully evaluated the responses to the RFP and made a sound business decision. The decision to go with Kustom Signals was based on the quality of their product, our prior experience with the company, the ease of use of the system, the large market share they hold and the cost."

"We have enjoyed a long-term relationship with Kustom Signals, having used their VHS mobile video system for many years. The Digital Eyewitness has proved to be a very reliable system, Kustom has provided excellent support, and they have been responsive to our needs," Lt. Desmond.

For nearly 40 years, Kustom Signals, Inc. has been a world leader in the design, manufacture and sale of digital and VHS in-car video, radar, laser, and speed monitoring/message sign trailers.

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