In the last year, Primeau Productions has seen a huge increase in surveillance video cases. Most of this began with CCTV (closed circuit television) systems, which back in 2013 helped identify the Boston Marathon Bombers. More recently, body worn cameras have been adopted by many police stations across the US ever since President Obama authorized funding for police stations to purchase these systems. Currently, there are numerous police stations around the country that are testing out different systems and learning how to properly integrate them into their procedures. Many of the stations have been open with the public about their testing and have begun to approve further funding to outfit more officers with cameras.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan Police Department was recently testing two different kinds of body-worn cameras among eight different police officers, who presented their feedback on the camera systems online. The city has now approved the funding for two hundred officers to be outfitted with cameras. The Seattle, Washington Police Department has also been very open about their body camera testing, even releasing some of the footage online for the public to see. To maintain privacy, they blurred the video and removed the audio so no individuals could be identified. A large amount of the public has been pushing for police worn body cameras ever since the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri last August.
The benefit of body worn cameras is that they protect both the public and police officers. Many police stations are in full support of the cameras because there will no longer be a question of what happened during an altercation. If a complaint is made against an officer, they will be able to check the body camera video and see whether the officer was acting inappropriately or if the complaint is accurate. Many stations believe this will be very helpful with training officers and improving the relationship between the public and police.
The biggest issue arising from the increase of body worn cameras is the huge amount of data being created. Not only does this require a very large amount of storage space, but it must be stored securely so that the video evidence cannot be tampered with. Thankfully, many of the companies providing these body worn cameras, such as VIEVU, also include software that ensures the evidence cannot be meddled with between the camera and the system. VIEVU’s system in particular makes sure that any video being downloaded from a camera has not been tampered with prior to the download. Access to the video will be limited to authorized personnel only to maintain the authenticity and safety of the video evidence.
As a Video Forensic Expert, I see many benefits to this increase in body worn cameras. I have worked on numerous cases in which evidence from a body worn camera greatly helped the investigation and proceeding trial. Police dash cameras have often been used as video evidence for investigations but they often do not show the entire altercation because of their stationary view. Police body worn cameras add a second perspective to be used along with the dash cam which can be invaluable to an investigation. Having the two angles of the event in question allows anyone involved in the case to get a better picture of what happened.