The following is paid content sponsored by QueTel.
By Police1 Staff
Agencies across the U.S. are deploying or considering purchasing body cameras for their police department. Even President Obama attempted to address the use of body cameras, because the issue is now so ubiquitous with public-safety agencies it has become a nationwide issue.
However, no agency can move forward with body cameras without considering digital management software. This includes avoiding common purchasing mistakes.
Mistake 1: Not carefully considering agency policies and procedures on body cam use and video file retention
Agencies have to decide when to activate the cameras and how long they are kept on file, plus determine the size of files. If activated with every citizen, there will be a large number of files to manage.
If files are retained for more than the time needed to it takes for court adjudication, the number of files will be large.
The number will grow explosively, if there are numerous files held as evidence, and they are held for more than the typical period of three year statute of limitations. Each jurisdiction has different procedures, so make sure to meet with all the stakeholders—from the district attorney to IT personnel—to make sure the right policies were in place.
Mistake 2: Trying to store wearable video camera files in an after-thought digital storage system
Body camera vendors are expected to have a place to store what they produce, so they cobble together back-end applications. There are a number of problems with such systems. They have limited category tags for searching and reporting, especially, if files are evidence and need to be kept for several years.
The storage systems provide skimpy tools for video processing, much less tools to process other types of digital evidence—tools to extract frames or segments; tools to redact or distort voices; tools to blur; tools to enhance still images for analytic and court presentation purposes—color inversion, gray scale, embossing, edge detection, much less cropping and inserting on screen markers and notes.
While files can always be exported for processing, the chain of custody and the log of processing steps become targets for smart defense lawyers.
Finally, these after-thought storage applications create just another silo that investigators and prosecutors must plow through to make their case for court. Moreover, these silos are totally distinct from electronic repositories in which physical evidence records are store.
Mistake 3: Not making the tradeoff between storage options
Agencies need to estimate the volume of files to estimate the size of storage and the cost to manage body camera videos. In addition, there are significant cost tradeoffs between cloud and on-premises storage solutions. The vast bulk of agencies, because the number of officers is small, are likely to find that cloud storage is more convenient and less expensive. However, there is a point at which agencies are large enough, so that absorbing the up-front cost of storage may be the lower cost alternative.
QueTel’s TraQ Suite components provide in one database the tools needed to manage and store files no matter where they are stored. Cam TraQ is a quick, versatile, and generic upload utility to ingest, categorize, and store body cam videos. Digital TraQ stores digital evidence so that technicians can enhance and process them and make it easy for detectives and prosecutors to access.
The sister application, Evidence TraQ, stores physical evidence in the same data base, and presents all evidence in one portal to detectives and prosecutors so that they spend less research time putting together the evidence they need to prepare of court.