Cobb County, GA Officers Now Wearing Body Cameras
The Cobb County Police Department purchased an initial 45 “body-worn video systems” called FirstVu HDs from Kansas City-based manufacturer Digital Ally, Inc. The systems include a small but tough 1-inch camera and 2.5” x 4” DVR that can be worn in a variety of locations.
Body cameras have garnered a great deal of attention lately because of several high profile officer-involved shootings in cities across the US, especially Ferguson, MO, who is now using Digital Ally’s FirstVu HD, as well. Although the general public has largely responded positively to the cameras because they provide an unbiased view of potentially controversial incidents, law enforcement agencies benefit even more from their use.
Stanton Ross, CEO of Digital Ally, tells us that “everyone behaves better when they’re being recorded. This benefits the relationship between the police department and the community, improves officer safety and has even been shown to drastically reduce the need for use of force.”
A majority of cases also go uncontested, and complaints against officers are dropped, as soon as it becomes known that the incident was recorded on video. This saves the department money and lets the officers spend more time patrolling the community instead of in court.
Digital Ally‘s body cams offer some distinct benefits not available from other camera manufacturers. The FirstVu HD features a wider field of view, lower light recording capability, and archived video recordings are higher in quality. The body cams also prevent unauthorized access to, or tampering with, the recordings, and access to the video evidence is logged.
Many other body cameras on the market are made overseas and use batteries that cannot be removed, requiring the entire body cam to be sent back to the manufacturer to be replaced when the batteries die, which takes it out of circulation for department use. The FirstVu HD features a user-replaceable, rechargeable battery that can last up to 2.5 days while powered on. It also comes with an Advance Exchange warranty, which means a replacement FirstVu HD will be made available before an original unit is sent in, should it ever need serviced.
The FirstVu HD also offers a longer “pre-event recording” time, which allows the camera to save up to 60 seconds of video and optional audio before the officer presses the record button. This is especially important when events require any use of force, because it allows the officer to focus on his or her safety first while still being able to go back and capture crucial recorded documentation of the incident once there is no longer any danger to the officer, the suspect or the public.
The department is also using Digital Ally dash cams in its patrol cars. Although body-worn video systems can go everywhere the officer does, recording events from the officer’s perspective, in-car video systems provide a more neutral view that includes the actions of both the officers and the public and does not miss anything when officers turn away or after a suspect is placed in the back seat of the patrol car. The dash cam's fixed view also shows movement more clearly, which is particularly valuable during sobriety tests. Ross says, “Recording with both in-car and body-worn video systems provides the most complete perspective and insight into an incident.”