Agencies that have deployed body-worn cameras have discovered that the pitfalls of a BWC program most often lie not with the devices the officers use in the field, but with managing the video and other digital records the devices create. Video files can be huge compared to most other computer records, and storage is expensive and cumbersome.
Keeping the video data accessible and connected to other case data is often problematic, as the video and other data frequently reside within separate systems or even separate storage devices. This is where a unified digital evidence management system, such as CommandCentral Vault from Motorola Solutions, can be a force multiplier for law enforcement.
Vault integrates video from bodycams and associates relevant data, including RMS data, as it is created, linking dispatch logs, still photos, voice recordings and other case information into a structure easily accessed and searched by investigators and prosecutors. Correlation of video evidence to CAD and RMS data compiles all the content related to an incident into a case folder for detectives, reducing the risk of evidence falling through the cracks.
At the same time, an audit trail for each data element is automatically created and maintained with the evidence. In the courtroom, the prosecutor can easily demonstrate how each item was created, accessed and maintained, as well as show the court and defense counsel that the information was not edited or altered.
The new Si200 body-worn video camera from Motorola Solutions is a reliable, simple-to-operate device that gives officers the capacity to document their actions and observations in the field. This powerful capability is multiplied when the device is used as the entry point to CommandCentral Vault to store, index and archive the camera’s output and other digital evidence associated with each case.
The compact and lightweight Si200 body-worn camera captures high-definition video and features additional advanced capabilities. Its internal battery will record continuously for 12 hours on a single charge – covering most full shifts – and its 64GB of internal memory is more than sufficient to store that much video at 480p, 720p or the max resolution of 1080p.
Recordings are preserved in .mp4 format, and pre-event buffering of up to two minutes is available. This means that the camera is always recording in video-only mode when the power is on. When the “record” button is pressed or the recorder is otherwise triggered, the content of the silent video buffer is appended to the start of the recording and saved with the rest of it.
The Si200 captures location information from either the GPS or GLONASS (Russian) satellite system, which is saved with the metadata of every recording. Recording is triggered manually by the user pressing a button on the camera’s side, or via an optional Bluetooth command triggered when the officer draws his sidearm from a specially equipped holster. A button below the “record” button toggles sound recording on and off.
All digital evidence stored on the Si200 transfers to Motorola’s CommandCentral Vault software when the device is placed into a charging/synchronization cradle, or wirelessly over an authorized secure Wi-Fi network.
More importantly, documentation of the chain of custody of each recording begins at the time the recording is made. The Si200 digitally signs all captured content to ensure the chain of custody. This documentation, and the integration of the video data with other digital evidence pertinent to each case, is the foundation and strength of the Si200/CommandCentral Vault system.
Additionally, video captured by the Si200 can be reviewed in the field using a secure mobile application for live viewing, tagging and playback. This enables officers to easily annotate video and tag recordings with relevant case data, such as names, license plate numbers, case numbers and other details that may be useful later to locate the recording and distinguish it from others.
These features help officers log digital evidence more accurately to help prosecutors make their cases, as well as speed up the process so they can spend more time in the field, serving the community. For example, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado adopted CommandCentral Vault to manage their digital evidence and reduce paperwork and the time required to enter various forms of evidence. Records clerk Jessica Flinn says the system allows officers to capture and upload video more effectively and gives investigators quick access for review or redaction.
“Before we had the video technology, our deputies would take photos and videos from digital cameras and regular film cameras and have to get that developed or get it onto a flash drive and into our evidence department,” Flinn said. “With that, they would have to fill out property sheets and bring that back in, and so it was a very long process for them at the end of their day, when they already had a full report to write.”
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Managing the influx of video from body-worn cameras and other sources can be a significant challenge, but this information is vital to solving and prosecuting crimes. Consider how to integrate your agency’s bodycams with a centralized solution for aggregating and organizing all of your digital content in one place for easier maintenance, review and sharing. Visit the Motorola Solutions website for more information on consolidating digital evidence.
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