For many, the choice to join law enforcement comes from a deep desire to give back to a community—to provide people and places a sense of security and protection. But sometimes circumstances involving police officers aren’t cut and dry, especially when dealing with emotional situations. Citizens and Officers can incorrectly remember the exact details of what happened during an incident because our memories aren’t always accurate. Additionally, a substantial amount of police work happens in the field without supervision. When a citizen complaint occurs (or even when one doesn’t), it is impossible to know which version of the story is accurate without a third party.
With body camera footage, it’s possible to see and hear all the events of an incident with precision, offering an objective witness for all situations. Though footage can confirm critical details that can make or break a case, studies suggest there is an added benefit of body-worn cameras. According to the 2021 study Body-Worn Cameras in Policing: Benefits and Costs, the mere existence of a body camera may provide a subconscious motivation for both civilians and law enforcement to avoid problematic situations.
“We try to look at every event that happens across the country to see how we can get better. Not to play armchair-quarterback or criticize another agency, but any professional learn from the mistakes or the challenges of the past. So we as the agency are doing that. We’ve used body cams to do that,” Adams said. “Not only are we increasing transparency and increasing confidence in the police department, but we’ve used it as a training tool.
“Ultimately, we want to preserve the life of another person or ourselves. We have a responsibility, if we see something in those videos that’s concerning, to address it and make our agency better, make our community better.”
Recognizing the Importance of Body Cameras
The first generation of police body cameras was introduced on a large scale in the United States in 2014. According to the National Institute of Justice, by 2016, approximately 47% of police law enforcement and 80% of large forces utilized body cameras. Though body cameras became more widely used, the policies which govern them and the tech which powers them can vary significantly. Thus, the effectiveness of body cameras on key issues, like civilian complaints and use of force, can also depend on the quality of cameras and how they are used.
Full Transparency: EOS™ by Utility
So, are all body cameras created the same? Absolutely not. In 2015, Utility introduced a solution to replace ineffective body cameras that fall off easily, offer little automation and produce poor video quality that is hard to store. As the only body-worn camera system that utilizes artificial intelligence to create situational awareness, EOS™ by Utility allows for forward-thinking agencies to develop policy-based body-worn camera programs that can deliver instant, transparent and secure intelligence when time and truth are critical. What does this mean for both law enforcement and community members? Transparency, literally from every angle.
As we developed the new technology featured in EOS™ by Utility, we engaged with our agency partners to get feedback and recommendations. The cameras provide additional capabilities within an enhanced user interface, developed with our foundational tenant in mind: Officers should never be asked to do something technology could do for them
The new EOS™ by Utility technology offers multiple new features, including:
- Improved Media Layout – Simplified user interface
- Unified Media and Messages Page – This allows officers to quickly and easily use the advanced functions and tools
- Camera Preview while Recording – Officers can hand-hold their video camera to take video evidence recordings of specific items or areas, using the previewer built into the EOS by Utility device
- Enhanced Playback – An enhanced playback mode includes video thumbnails of recognizable faces or subjects, giving officers the ability to identify videos when managing metadata more easily
- Driver’s License Scanner – Officers have the ability to quickly capture images of driver’s licenses utilizing their EOS body camera, creating the opportunity for more seamless interaction between officers in the field and records management personnel to ensure data is shared efficiently and quickly
- Quick Forward/Backward on Video Playback– Officers can move five seconds forwards or backward within recorded videos, allowing for quicker video conversion
- Picture Notes with Audio Transcription – Officers can add notes to pictures using speech-to-text, making the process user friendly
- Audio Recorder – Allows officers to be able to record audio conversations as evidence
- Messaging and BOLO Integration – Officers maintain full messaging and BOLO alerts authored through Polaris, formerly AVaiLWeb
The relationship between law enforcement and communities is based on mutual respect and trust. However, due to incidents in recent years, it became harder to reconcile who is right and who is wrong without the everyday use of body-worn cameras.
Jason Dombkowski, former chief of police of West Lafayette Police Department in Indiana and director of law enforcement relations for Utility, shares, “It was so important for us to take as much of that decision-making off the hands of the officer and put it into the technology,” Dombkowski said. “I can’t say that it removes all implicit bias, but I know that having it automatically turn on is a good thing for our cops, and it’s a good thing for our community.”
Utility has never believed in one and done. That’s why we partner with our clients, listen to community members, constantly respond to their needs, and evolve our ecosystem to meet the demands of an ever-changing “prove-it-to-me” world.
We’re proud to begin 2022 by introducing enhanced technology to our current and future clients, and we look forward to sharing more milestone innovations throughout the year.
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