As law enforcement agencies put 2015 behind them and look to the future, technology continues to play an important role in boosting accountability and improving officer safety.
Dashboard cameras and body-worn cameras provide an objective view of interactions between the police and the public. In fact, the footage is already helping to improve public trust. According to a Gallup poll released in December, the rating Americans gave to the honesty and ethical standards of police rebounded to 56 percent, up from 48 percent in 2014. That’s good news, given that communities are safer and stronger thanks to the efforts of law enforcement and other first responders.
Deployments of video surveillance technologies — in particular, wearable cameras — will soar this year. Market intelligence firm Tractica forecasts that body-worn camera shipments will reach 30.6 million units annually by 2020.
New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman last month announced that criminal forfeiture funds will support the purchase of 5,000 body cameras statewide. “The overwhelming response we received from law enforcement to our offer of funding demonstrates that police officers are embracing this technology to protect themselves, assist them in their work and foster stronger police-community relations,” Hoffman said.
In-car cameras have strengthened public trust and aided in securing convictions in Florida. Thanks to video footage, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office was able to demonstrate that officers acted in accordance with policies and procedures. And in St. Petersburg, video evidence has been particularly useful in DUI investigations.
“I can add detailed quotes instead of paraphrasing,” says Officer Robbie Arkovich of the St. Petersburg Police Department. “It makes it more relevant to the jury when I can say, ‘Let me read you a quote from the driver.’ ”
While dashboard and body camera footage has proved to be indispensable, it generates terabytes of data per year. Public-safety agencies such as the Lincoln Parish (La.) Sheriff’s Office have turned to new storage solutions to handle the surging volume of unstructured data.