Car Camera System
Fort Huachuca officers stay connected, efficient with in car video cameras
Panasonic Arbitrator 360° in-car digital video system, Toughbook mobile computers enable evidence capture and mobile data entry
Located in southeast Arizona, Fort Huachuca is a United States Army installation with a population of roughly 6,500 active duty soldiers, 7,400 family members and 5,000 civilians. On the base, the Directorate of Emergency Services is charged with ensuring the safety and security of personnel, dependents, visitors and physical property alike.
Sgt. Christopher Shafer manages all fleet operations for emergency services, including equipment procurement and installation. The squad cars at Fort Huachuca were originally equipped with three different DVR-style camera systems. These outdated systems required officers to pull hard drives from cars and download and re-file each video. The effort to input and classify the evidence was inefficient and time consuming.
The systems that were in place caused many challenges for the IT team because the video collection systems were not unified, and were hard to compile and organize. Fort Huachuca had three different processes set up to download the video and transfer the files to an external hard drive. Sgt. Shafer said, “If I pulled video from all three camera systems weekly, it would take three days at eight hours a day watching video. Because the systems were older, the video and audio weren’t the best quality either.”
When Sgt. Shafer recognized that the degradation of the video file could cause evidentiary issues, he began to evaluate new video capture solutions that would be of higher quality and easier to file. He said, “It was imperative that the new system be more robust, user-friendly, scalable and have the ability to wirelessly transfer the video onto file. We needed to be able to quickly search the video content and identify possible evidence.”
DataSource Mobility recommended that Fort Huachuca execute a pilot to test the devices with their software and ensure operational efficiency. After the successful pilot, Fort Huachuca purchased 22 Panasonic Arbitrator 360° digital video systems. They saw the value in the 360-degree view inside and outside of the squad car. The camera systems are paired with fully-rugged Toughbook H2 tablet PCs mounted in the squad cars with Gamber Johnson docking stations, which ensure that all equipment is locked securely in its place and will not fly through the windshield during a sudden stop or fast driving. Officers are able to add notes to the video file in real time with the computers docked in a convenient location next to them. Fort Huachuca can now easily search videos, download the necessary files and convert them to Windows Media files seamlessly.
“We had a recent situation when an officer was ticketing a violator and the violator was verbally harassing our officer. After the ticket was issued, we received a call from the violator to file a complaint that the officer was rude and berating during the traffic stop. We quickly reviewed the video and audio [captured with the Arbitrator], and immediately knew the officer was innocent,” said Sgt. Shafer. “We had another case where a female was apprehended and she tried to move her handcuffs from behind her back to the front of her body. In the process, she injured her wrist and later tried to blame it on the officer. We looked at the video and it was obvious that she did it to herself.”
Sgt. Shafer said the Toughbook H2 tablet PCs were chosen because “they are super-sized palm pilots, and we are looking ahead to implement a more efficient means of data collection.”
Fort Huachuca’s Military Police use the semi-rugged Panasonic Toughbook 53 laptop. The MP Investigators are in unmarked cars and don’t have camera systems because they are undercover. The Toughbook 53 allows them to log in to the Spillman database to gather and enter data on the fly.
The Toughbook 53 plays double duty as the communication station for their Mobile Command Center during emergency situations. “If we are at a scene, I can run a tag immediately, review the information and I don’t have to involve the other department resources on the road,” said Sgt. Shafer.
“DataSource Mobility was a great partner for us and made sure our deployment was flawless. All of this technology has improved field operations and made everything much more streamlined. The system is there to protect our officers, and it has helped tremendously in decreasing unwarranted litigation, which has proved to be a great asset to our lawyers as well,” concluded Sgt. Shafer.