More About The Body Worn Camera

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The other night I responded to a neighboring city to contact the suspect in a hit and run collision. An officer from the neighboring department was also there. When I was done with the interview, I walked up to the suspect vehicle so the damage would show up in the video from my body worn camera. It was easy. I didn’t even have to get a regular camera out.

I looked over at the officer from the other department and said, “I love this thing.” With a raised eyebrow he looked at me like I was kidding. That’s when I said, “No, really. This thing is great.” He still looked like he didn’t believe me as he said, “Really?”

I then told him the advantages I have seen in a short time. Another officer from our department also told him the same thing.

He still didn’t look convinced and told me his department was testing them out. He said it would be hard to get used to. I told him it was easier to use than the audio recorder and it showed so much more. He still didn’t seem convinced.

He then said something lame. He said it would be easier for the younger officers to use because they were more technologically savvy. I could tell he was resistant to change.

Lately I’ve been asking random officers at my department what they thought about the BWC. Every person has instantly said they like it. Every one of them has also told me a story where the BWC was better than audio because it showed so much more.

A lot of officers also brought up stories where they wished they had the BWC when someone complained.

One motor officer told me a unique way how he uses his BWC on car stops. While on the stop he’ll hold the license up to the BWC so it will be part of the video in case something happened to him. I never thought of that.

The other night someone showed me a picture they took on their phone of a hit and run license plate. I held the phone up to my BWC so there was proof the witness actually took the pic. This way there was no doubt we had the correct license plate number.

I’m here to say this thing has been great. It’s not perfect, but I’m glad my department spent the money for the BWC sooner, rather than later. It will make our jobs easier in this crazy environment.

There’s nothing like having the video show how some of these people act on calls. It’s unfortunate that it has come to that, but that’s the world we live in.

It cracks me up on calls where people pull out their phones to record us. That’s fine. I’m recording you too.

More importantly, I have more gigabyte space to do it.

Body Worn Camera

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 Say Cheese

This weekend was the first time I ever used my Taser body worn camera (BWC). It was an easy transition from the Puma audio recorder we were issued a few years ago. Like anything new, you just have to get used to turning it on and off.

I don’t see the BWC as a bad thing. It’s a good thing that was needed in today’s volatile climate. If the BWC shows a suspect is guilty and keeps me out of court then it’s a good thing. If a person lies about something and the camera was running, then it did its job.

Is the BWC the end all when it comes to investigations?

The BWC shows a lot, but it can’t replace the good old human eye, head and neck. The head can turn to look. The BWC can’t. Its field of view is dependent on where the officer wears it.

As an officer, you’re trained to keep you gun side back. That means standing at an angle to a suspect with the gun away. Since my BWC is on my belt that means its field of view might be turned slightly away from the suspect.

I bring that up because a non-law enforcement person might wonder why the video didn’t show everything they expected to see. There’s just no perfect place to wear it.

When I entered the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy in 1994 I never imagined wearing a camera while working. It wasn’t  something you thought about. As the years went by, new technology changed how we did things. Equipment got faster, smaller and smarter.

The BWC age is upon us, so you might as well embrace it because it’s not going away. If you don’t have a BWC yet, you will soon.

There’s an interesting feature about the camera when the power switch is on. It’s always recording the last 30 seconds with no audio. When you activate the camera to the record mode  the audio then starts. The BWC retains the last 30 seconds of video prior to the record button being activated.

So, this brings me to an interesting thing about the BWC. I’m not worried the BWC is going to show me doing something wrong.

The main thing you have to worry about with the BWC is to make sure the power is off when you go to the rest room….

I didn’t think about it until the first time nature called and I had this new piece of technology attached to the front of my belt.

Let me say that again. “Attached to the front of my belt.”

It’s just a little something the newbies to the world of law enforcement cameras should think about. It brings new meaning to being caught with your pants down….

The age of the body worn camera is upon us. Say Cheese.