New Methods, Missions for Police Video

Mon, 05/02/2011

J.J Smith

Providing officers on patrol with the ability to send and receive video information; record evidence; and be protected from false complaints, are the functions of video on patrol, say the manufacturers, and providers of those video products.

However, there is some divergence on how those goals are achieved.


Reality Mobile started work on its latest product—RealityVision 3.0—in 2005, says Brian Geoghegan, Reality Mobile’s chief products officer, who says the goal of the research is to take a smart phone and make it useful for officers.

RealityVision 3.0 is a software platform that is “the intersection between video and a smart phone” which allows law enforcement officers the ability to send and receive video using iPhones, Geoghegan said. With RealityVision 3.0, officers can send and receive video to and from headquarters and with other officers in the field, he said. Each organization creates its own private network—Reality Mobile has software to do that—and that network is how video is sent and received among officers, he added.

RealityVision 3.0 is useful to officers because it allows organizations to simultaneously share multiple information flows in an instant, according to Geoghegan.

“We allow the operations centers’ to push that live feed to the officers on the ground, so everyone knows what is going on,” he said. For example, with RealityVision 3.0 a picture of a suspect can be streamed out to individuals in the field, and an officer can pause the video to get a clear look at the suspect, he said.

While RealityVision 3.0 might be good for communicating video to officers on patrol, video cameras remain the dominate products used to record interactions and activities of law enforcement personnel.


Panasonic’s Toughbook Arbitrator 360.
The vehicle cameras provided by CDW-Government Public Safety Group can be used as evidence in court cases, and as training materials, said Houston Thomas, CDW-G’s public safety solution architect. CDW-G provides two manufactured solutions, and a second that is just coming out from General Dynamics, Thomas said. CDW-G provides consulting services associated with in-car video and helps the client design their policy on how the in-car video unit is going to be used, retained and shared, he said.

CDW-G’s consulting services provide information on the Panasonic Toughbook Arbitrator 360°, which is described as “a rugged and durable mobile digital video system that can be used with or without a Toughbook computer.” The Arbitrator 360° “is specifically engineered” for the “demanding environments law enforcement personnel face every day,” says Panasonic. The fully-integrated system offers “video capture” of up to 360 degrees, as well as Panasonic’s Toughbook Arbitrator 360. storage and transfer of the video and is designed to work with back-end software for seamless video management, including archiving and retrieving, the company says.

“We (CDW-G) feel its (a vehicle camera) primary use is to protect an officer’s reputation,” he added. “Much like a bullet-proof vest protects an officer’s well being, we can eliminate the ‘he said, she said,’ we can reduce the amount of erroneously filed complaints against an officer,” Thomas said. Because of that, the video systems CDW-G offers can reduce the amount of payouts associated with complaints for alleged misconduct, because when there is a record of what occurred, complaints disappear.


Gaining popularity among law enforcement agencies are video “wearables” that are part of an officer’s equipment, including the VIDMIC. However, that product has been redesigned and the VIDMIC VX2 will hit the market in April 2011, said Todd Haynes, CEO of VIDMIC.

The VIDMIC VX2 sits in the center of an officer’s chest. Photo courtesy of VIDMIC
The original VIDMIC is a full color digital video and audio recorder, and still photo camera that is part of an officer’s communications microphone. The company originally started as a two-way radio accessory company, selling earpieces and acoustic tubes, Haynes said. About four years into the business, development began on the VIDMIC, he added. “We thought, wouldn’t it be great to take a camera and place it on an officer,” and the VIDMIC has been shipping for about four years now. During that time multiple internal improvements have been made to the VIDMIC, he said.

About 18 months ago VIDMIC began development of the VIDMIC VX2, which has “major modifications,” Haynes said. The original VIDMIC has a 120 x 240 resolution on the recording, which is the equivalent of 240 x 320 based on different technologies. “We’ve upgraded that camera for the VX2 to 640 x 480 resolution, and which can be upgraded all the way to HD, which is 1080p,” he said.

The original unit also had one gig of memory which allows for roughly 3.5 hours of continuous recording,” Haynes said. “Now we have 8 gigs on there which allows for from four to five hours of recording,” he said, adding, “We’ve also changed the casing to give it higher durability, higher drop factor.”

In addition, Haynes forecasts that video wearables are going to be standard among law enforcement within 10 years. “The video camera in a car only sees a small percentage of the activities, and when officers enter a house or building, the activities are not recorded by a car camera,” he said.

There are also officers who are on foot patrol, or ride bicycles and horses, so there is not a car camera to record their activities, but all of that is solved with an officer worn video, Haynes said. “Over the next five to ten years, officer worn video will become the standard versus car cams,” he said.


While not saying that officer worn video will become the standard, Cmdr. Mark Cody of the Rockport, Texas Police Department says more police departments are going to adopt VIDMICs or units like it. “I envision all of law enforcement adopting audio/video recorders, if not the VIDMIC, or something like it, because it is great at videoing evidence and protecting the officers,” he said.

The Rockport Police Department adopted the VIDMIC about four-years ago, and every officer is equipped with one, Cody said. “We use them on all contact with the public. We just turn the VIDMIC on and it’s great at videoing evidence, and protecting the officers from complaints,” he said. The department has video cameras in its vehicles, “but when you get away from the car or go into a building,” there is no video record of events. “With the VIDMIC, you’re recording the entire call,” he said, adding “It’s a great tool.”

However, Thomas has a different take on wearables, saying they are an enhancement to a camera that is already in the car.