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Posts Tagged ‘Chain of Custody’

Increase in Body Worn Cameras

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

le2-3 Increase in Body Worn CamerasIn the last few years, Primeau Forensics has seen an increase in cases that involve surveillance video including body camera video recordings. This digital video evidence is very important in order of investigators and the Trier of Fact to understand the events as they occurred.

Much of this activity began back in 2013 and helped locate and identify the Boston Marathon Bombers. FBI investigators had to cull through dozens if not hundreds of hours of CCTV video surveillance recordings in order to find and identify the terrorists that were eventually responsible for these acts of violence.

Lately, video as evidence is expanding to include body worn cameras that have been implemented into many police agencies across the United States. President Obama authorized funding for police agencies to purchase this equipment. Currently, there are numerous police agencies around the country that are testing different makes of body cameras and learning how to properly integrate them into their procedures. Many of these agencies have been transparent with 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 everyone, police officers as well as citizens. Many police agencies are in full support of the cameras because they reduce the questioning of what happened during an altercation. If a disagreement is established against an officer, internal affairs will be able to check the body camera video and see the events as they occurred. Police agencies 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 also include proprietary software that ensures the evidence cannot be modified between the camera and the system. 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.

Of course all video recordings submitted as evidence in a civil or criminal litigation must have an established chain of custody that supports the events and provides integrity for the digital video evidence. We encourage you to review our series on How to Properly Record a Police Officer when adding Good Samaritan video recordings to an investigation.

 

A DVD is NOT an Original Video

Monday, November 25th, 2013

1418171_59762260-300x199 A DVD is NOT an Original VideoMore often than not, a DVD is not an original video.

Many law enforcement organizations create DVD copies for defendants because they are much easier to play than native digital video formats. This can be confusing so allow me to further explain. Over the last 30 years as a practicing audio/video forensic expert, I have experienced many digital file formats, as well as analogue tape formats, used in litigation. Usually, they are able to successfully serve a purpose by showing the facts as they occurred. These videos help bring the scene of the crime into the court room so the Trier of Fact and the jury can make decisions more accurately. People alter video and eliminate sections they do not want the court to see. This is why as a video forensic expert, I am asked to examine and authenticate video evidence when one of the parties in the litigation disagrees with the contents of the video.  When the video evidence is presented on a DVD as a VOB ‘burn,’ it is nearly impossible for me to authenticate because the meta data has been stripped. When digital video is created, the meta data in the digital video file has information about the equipment that made the digital video file, the date and time the digital video was recorded and most importantly, a footprint of any video editing software that was used before that video was admitted into evidence. All of this meta data information is stripped from the digital video recording if the video has been burned to a DVD. Part of my job is to investigate the history of the video in evidence and help attorneys and prosecutors obtain originals or better understand the video evidence before any due process begins. One of the biggest problems I find is that most of the video entered into evidence is on a DVD and is not original. When either of the litigators question the contents of a video, they ask for my help to determine if any editing or alteration has occurred. I always encourage prosecutors and lawyers to maintain the original video evidence in the recorder that created it because that way, a full forensic investigation is easily executed. Once that original video is deleted, it becomes much more difficult to investigate forensically. In some cases, a properly made copy of the original evidence will include the important meta data necessary for the authentication process. Leaving the digital video file in its native format is much better than converting the video format to a DVD VOB file through the burning process.

Virtual Chain of Custody for Video Forensics

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

chain-of-custody-1024x768 Virtual Chain of Custody for Video ForensicsTraditionally, a chain of custody is established between all parties – prosecution and defense, civil or criminal litigators – when handling forensic video evidence. Most of the time, the chain of custody process is easily established and agreed on when bringing in a forensic expert to authenticate or clarify and enhance the video evidence. This is a blog post about a new technology that is helping make this process easier and more convenient for all parties involved.

In an effort to provide good service while respecting the expectations of my clients, I have been using Cloud storage methods for sharing video evidence and work product.

Now that high speed Internet has hit critical mass it is easy and safe to share video forensic evidence over the Internet without violating the evidence integrity.

One network I have been using very successfully is to upload clarified video evidence to Vimeo using a password protected video post. Only the persons privy to the password can view the video. Of course, this practice is not acceptable in cases that involve children or pornography.

The link to the video post is then emailed to the client. The password is provided to the client in a separate email.

Once the forensic video process is complete the video evidence is then burned onto a CD or DVD Rom and returned to the client for the litigation proceeding.

Other virtual methods for safely transferring video evidence are Dropbox and YouSendIt.  As technology evolves, so does the forensic expert. Litigators are pleased with the convenience and forensic investigators are utilizing technological advancements to help speed up the forensic approval process.

Video Forensic Expert Edward J Primeau Curriculum Vitae

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