Six Imperatives for Video Evidence in Law Enforcement

by | Jun 30, 2021 | Public Security Solutions

Brian Uhler, ICU Technologies, Police Chief (Retired)

On LinkedIn one morning earlier this month a Police Captain posted a photo of himself as a rookie writing a report with paper and pen. In his post the captain chronicled how dramatically technology had changed policing with the advent and inclusion of such modern policing tools as body worn cameras, tasers, in-car computers, license plate readers, and similar. You get the idea. My take-away from the post was how much the captain embraced change and looked forward to more, declaring, “If you are not changing, you are doing a disservice to your community.”

Reflecting on this, I thought about the ever-increasing value of video in policing. Back in the day video was virtually non-existent. However, in 2021, juries and prosecutors have come to expect video evidence to support criminal cases.

A first step in most investigations is door-to-door search for video. The glimpses of a suspect on video in the moments before or after a crime are crucial, making it appear those cases without video evidence are seemingly doomed.

“If you are not changing, you are doing a disservice to your community.”

If your law enforcement agency is like most, adaptation to the decades-long development of video dependency has been slow. Without question, over the last couple of decades events have slowly motivated police leaders to add body worn cameras, develop video evidence handling procedures, and create different methods for assessing video evidence.

Current Pressures On Policing:

Increases in violent crime

Staffing shortages

(Recruitment & Retention)

Funding, legitimacy pressures

However, today we find ourselves experiencing a congruence of events making, as the captain described it, the need to adopt new and improved video strategies more important, and neccessary, than ever.

I’ve identified six imperatives or opportunities related to video evidence that, if addressed properly, would help to reduce crime, serve as a force multiplier to address dwindling staffing, and the technology adoption would provide a measured counterbalance to police downsizing to maintain protection of the community.

Imperative #1

Improved Methods for Video Evidence Collection

Over time, there has been little change in the way responders collect recorded video evidence. Most still rely on door-to-door, after-the-fact video hunting. Far too often, by the time a detective makes the rounds, a store’s video is written-over and potential evidence is lost.

To help, some agencies have sought to register and inventory their community’s cameras to facilitate investigations.

Untapped video resources such as those in shopping areas, schools, bus/train facilities, parks, hotels, convenience stores, and industrial areas should be connected to a single platform (along with the local government’s public safety cameras). Now, video is only available with significant delay, after a crime has occurred. The norm after a major event is for PDs to engage in the labor-intensive effort of scrambling resources in search of video.

Imperative #2

Improved Access to Existing Video Infrastructure

Imperative #3

RTCC capacity for both in-office and field personnel at a reasonable cost

Traditionally real-time access to non-government owned cameras required expensive technology. Effective video management relied upon sufficient staffing. The most common Real Time Crime Center model is for in-office analysts to evaluate and feed actionable information to field officers. When analysts are not available, little value is realized from expensive RTCC infrastructure and smaller agencies have difficulty justifying the expense.

For this reason, there is an opportunity for an affordable cloud-based solution to deliver critical data to field personnel via in-car computer, tablet, and smart phones. This RTCC solution needs to become the norm.

To establish a solid video plan, law enforcement agencies must demonstrate to elected officials and the public the proposed system has features to prevent abuses and safeguard the public trust. Every jurisdiction has different levels of tolerance for certain features like Artificial Intelligence (AI), data retention, facial recognition, and video in non-public areas.

Any deployed system should have customizable features to adjust with changes in policy or the law. For example, some elected leaders or police leadership may not want officers to have access to any non-public space video unless there has been a crime reported and review of a given video is related to a specific crime.

Imperative #4

A reliable and secure video system with custom control measures

Imperative #5

RTCC systems should integrate multiple data streams including video

Video infrastructure should always be coupled with other key systems. The “single pane of glass” concept is critical to overall situational awareness.

The map based RTCC system should aggregate multiple data points to include video, such as:

Z

Spatially oriented video icons with “hover and see” or click to organize capacity

Z

CAD “pin drops” with automatic camera tethering as well as hover and see details

Z

Location data from police, fire, or EMS vehicles (or cell phones)

Z

ShotSpotter and ALPR alerts

Z

Floorplan integration to support responders, to include multi-level facilities

Z

Video streaming from field users to EOCs and law enforcement leaders

Z

Robot, drone, and “drop cam” streaming for emergencies

Z

Custom dashboard to include social media or local news feeds

Z

Event planning and messaging tools to include telestration to support field operations

Z

Public tips organization/communication platform

Z

Fire and intrusion alarm system alerts

Staffing shortages and crime problems are serious. Most high-dollar, “big player,” real-time crime and video management systems take more than a year to deploy. Lengthy deployment schedules are unacceptable. 

Consider that cloud based RTCC video systems can be deployed in a month! What’s more, they don’t require full-time IT shepherding. These systems do not require new servers or network equipment, nor should you get any licensing surprises.

Imperative #6

We Need Scalable Video Systems Deployed Rapidly

There is a better video evidence solution: ICU Technologies + Fūsus

The good news is my list of six imperatives for improved video evidence processes does not set unattainable expectations nor goes unanswered. Every desired feature described here is available to law enforcement agencies now. ICU Technologies and Fūsus are partnered to offer customers an answer to every imperative.

Fūsus is the first to unify live video, data and sensor feeds from virtually any source, creating a Real-Time Crime Center In the cloud that enhances the situational awareness and investigative capabilities of law enforcement agencies. The best part is that the cost for Fūsus is surprisingly reasonable.

ICU Technologies and Fūsus offer you an affordable, scalable, rapidly deployable, cloud-based RTCC solution with more features than any other provider in the market. Together, our partnership would help to reduce crime, address staffing conflicts, and provide that much needed, measured counterbalance to maintain protection of your local communities.

If you are interested in leading excellent change to benefit your community and agency, request more information here or call us at or (530) 488-7200.

About the Author

Brian Uhler

Brian T. Uhler served in virtually all law enforcement roles from Police Officer to Chief of Police in three diverse agencies (in Texas, serving a city of 285,000 people, and in two California agencies: the UCSF Police Department and South Lake Tahoe Police Department). He received his master’s degree in public administration from Texas A & M, Corpus Christi, and is an FBI National Academy graduate. He currently works at ICU Technologies where he continues to focus on helping law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. He encourages those with an interest in expanding the use of public safety technology to message or e-mail (buhler@icu-techinc.com).

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