Thursday, June 30, 2011 —
One local police department has stepped up its crime fighting ability with new, state-of-the-art technology. Locust Police Department added the DVM500+ in-car camera system to its patrol cars, a change that Chief Frank Hartsell said will benefit the officers.
“There are a lot of good things we can use these cameras for. Most importantly, though, they can help a lot with our investigations,” Hartsell said.
The police department first began purchasing the new cameras in July 2010 through the company Digital Ally. At that time, only four cameras were purchased, but after seeing the benefits of having the camera system in the car, five more were purchased — four of which the city purchased this budget year and the fifth was funded by trading in 6,000 Governor Highway Safety Program points.
“At the beginning the officers were not fond of the new cameras but after seeing how they can protect them and what kind of evidence they can provide, everybody loves them,” Hartsell said.
These new cameras replace the department’s former cameras that consisted of the equivalent of a mounted video camera. They are built into aftermarket rear-view mirrors, which makes it more convenient for the officers since the camera is not obstructing their field of view.
But beyond their convenience, the cameras also provide the officers with tools they did not have with the former cameras, such as GPS and all-digital records, as well as the ability to tag.
“If an officer involved in a chase notices the driver throw an item from the vehicle, our officer just has to push a button, and the camera records the location,” Hartsell said, adding that the GPS coordinates from the camera then make it possible to return to the location and find the object that was thrown from the vehicle.
Hartsell explained that there are other important features to the camera such as recording the entire route of a chase and speed, as well as that the cameras are activated and begin recording each time the blue lights and sirens are switched on.
Digital copies of the video can then be retained at the police department. And when it comes time, the video, and sometimes audio, files can then be copied and used in court.
“It’s like having another witness to back up what the officers say happened during a call,” Hartsell said.
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