The King City (Mo.) PD is about as small as small town law enforcement gets: One full-time and one part-time officer protect a population of approximately 1,000 citizens. With limited personnel, the department has learned that putting technology to work for them can produce huge benefits. One such technology is an in-car video system. John G. Epperson, the department’s former chief, was instrumental in equipping both of the city’s cruisers with dashboard cameras. In fact, he felt so strongly about the technology that he paid for the first system installed in a King City unit—a Super Eight video tape system—out of his own pocket.
By 2006, Epperson was looking to upgrade to a more advanced system, so he approached the city council for funding. He was able to convince council members that purchasing an in-car video system was cheaper than paying the cost of a frivolous lawsuit. He demonstrated that video evidence can often dispel a charge or show that the officer made a good faith effort to help the person. “It protects the officer, city and tax payer,” he says.
When the city council gave him the go ahead, Epperson chose the Martel Digital Entercepter-2 DVR Partner. The self-contained system records video and audio evidence directly to either a four-, eight- or 16-gigabyte solid-state secure digital flash card. The four-gig cards Epperson purchased record eight hours of high-definition video. It’s the same system used by the U.S. military and law enforcement across the country.
According to Epperson, another plus was the price. “When you deal with agencies with less than 10 officers in the department, this is the way to go,” he says. “I got two units for what you could spend for one.”
A small vault mounts between the visors or on the center console, so there’s nothing to install in the trunk. Forward and rearward facing cameras record the events inside and outside the unit. The officers wear wireless microphones to add audio evidence.
Epperson says the video system is a valuable tool for keeping officers on the street, instead of in court. Simply providing a copy of the video data to the prosecutor in a pre-trial hearing, more often than not, prevents cases from going any further.
Small agencies are used to making due, but that doesn’t necessarily mean doing without technology. Sometimes technology, such as in-car video systems, can help stretch limited resources, save time and the agency’s reputation.
In-Car Video Vendors