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Why body-worn cameras are fast becoming vital tools of law enforcement

In an age where technology is swiftly advancing and the public is adopting a “see-it-to-believe-it” mentality, it’s no surprise body-worn cameras are on the rise in law enforcement. Whether you’re in the midst of testing out the technology; sourcing funding to implement a body worn camera (BWC) program; or still uncertain about the ramifications of using these wearable devices, chances are they are top of mind.

According to a recent CBC News poll, three-quarters of the City of Toronto’s residents believe all officers should be wearing body-worn cameras, while eighty one percent strongly (or somewhat) agree that the prevalence of cameras will lead to more police officers being accountable for their actions. On the flipside, those already using body-worn cameras have observed a significant reduction in citizen complaints (90%), while noting their usefulness for documenting evidence, resolving false allegations, and enhancing both in-service training and the public’s trust in police. 

In May 2015, 100 officers in Toronto’s Primary Response Units at 43 and 55 Divisions, Traffic Services and TAVIS Rapid Response Teams began testing body-worn equipment as part of a year-long pilot project. Similarly, testing has been carried out in Vancouver, Edmonton and Hamilton. The Calgary police service—one of Canada’s first to complete BWC testing in 2012—has already equipped hundreds of its officers with body-worn cameras based on its own positive outcome.

But no matter where you are in your BWC journey, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: body-worn digital technology is here to stay. Implementing a program is no longer a matter of if or when—but how.

Capturing Critical Events, Instantly and Accurately

Though instituting a body-worn camera program can create some significant challenges, the benefits already being realized are significant. In today’s tech-savvy world, gathering evidence has changed. Video holds great promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability and advancing public safety. While technology can also be a burden—with more devices, more data and more work to manage—continual advancements are helping to alleviate those hindrances, allowing law enforcement officers to do their job more effectively.

As video evidence proliferates, police departments are looking for smarter ways to streamline the process while controlling the costs. A holistic end-to-end solution can help to contain the expense of evidence management, enhance the safety and efficiency of officers, and improve interactions with the public.

Motorola’s Si Series body cameras, for example, combine voice communications, real-time video, still images, voice recording and emergency alerting into one compact and rugged device. Through its CommandCentral Vault Digital Evidence Management, all recorded content is securely stored and easy to share with judicial personnel, citizens and media. The cloud-based digital evidence management system eliminates recording errors, automatically tags and redacts content, while simplifying your budget management with predictable pricing. It also integrates seamlessly with the Si Series video speaker microphone—meaning you can capture, review, manage and share digital evidence simply and efficiently.

In short, with technology refining BWC equipment, the cameras are quickly becoming a predominant tool for digital evidence capture, protecting both the officers and the citizens they serve. They record the content that agencies need to build transparency and accountability, while deepening community trust. At the same time, they can help enhance training, improve officer safety and implement best practices.

By the numbers:
  • 80% of officers say BWCs improve the quality of evidence
  • 58% report BWCs reduced their time spent in court
  • Body-worn cameras go a long way toward influencing citizen and officer behaviour. 90% of departments noted a drop in the number of complaints filed against police, and over 70% of citizens said cameras were beneficial during their encounters with officers
  • Given the emergence of cameras in policing and the mounting requests for multimedia evidence, BWCs are on their way to becoming the norm

For more information on body-worn camera equipment, visit: http://www.motorolasolutions.com/en_us/solutions/digital-evidence-management-solution.html

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