Cameras help keep an eye on crime [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]
(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) PLATTEVILLE, Wis. - When Platteville Police Chief Doug McKinley saw the department's new glasses, it made him think of a "Mission Impossible" movie.
The department bought more than 20 i-Kam Xtreme digital video surveillance glasses this summer. At a little less than $150 per pair, the glasses were bought using donations to the department.
The lightweight devices look like muscular safety glasses. A pinhole video camera is mounted in the center of the glasses for video and audio recording. The data then are downloaded into a server for storage.
The glasses' purchase came shortly before the city adopted a public intoxication ordinance in July.
"We felt they would be a nice fit for the implementation of the ordinance," McKinley said. "They can readily provide documentation of offenses."
The devices already have proven valuable with identifying unknown suspects and documenting statements and offenses, the chief said.
He said he believes the use of the glasses will reduce "spurious" complaints against officers.
"We've already experienced situations in which people have been confrontational or argumentative until they become aware that our officers are using the glasses to
document their behavior," McKinley said.
Platteville police are not required to advise suspects they are being recorded, but sometimes people ask about the glasses. Other times, officers tell people, hoping it might cause them to improve their behavior, according to McKinley.
"So far, they've been a real nice tool for our officers," McKinley said. "They're not long on looks, but functionality versus appearance makes it worth it."
A TREND IN
The Cuba City Police Department has used personal recording devices for two years.
But rather than glasses, the agency uses a camera that is worn on officer's shirts.
The result: The ability to document events more accurately while improving officer safety, said Police Chief Troy Loeffelholz.
"They are working, functioning great and are a valuable tool that assists our agency in documenting facts and events," he said.
McKinley and Loeffelholz think larger law enforcement agencies with more financial resources will adopt similar equipment.
So does Capt. Dale Snyder, of the Dubuque County Sheriff's Department.
"Depending on department size and budgets, at some point and time this will probably become as common as the in-car video systems are now," he said. "The public expects every department to be equipped the same as they see on TV. The problem is that they cost money, and with the current financial situation with all government agencies, the current trend is budget cutting. I see some departments going this way and others not, due to cost and storage requirements of the recordings for an extended period of time."
Patrol officers in Dubuque could have some type of personal video device in the next two to five years.
That's if the Dubuque Police Department hits its goal, according to spokesman Lt. Scott Baxter.
"I think it's just a matter of time before you see virtually all law enforcement officers wearing audio/video recording devices," he said. "The benefits to the officers and law-abiding public are numerous."
Several members of the department's community policing division either already have the devices or will likely be getting them soon.
The Dubuque County Sheriff's Department plans to implement the video and recording devices in the future but has no specific start date, according Snyder.
"We have had the on-body video/audio devices in our investigation units for five years and they have worked well," he said.
Sheriffs in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties in Wisconsin also indicated their departments have looked into - and continue to explore - using similar types of devices.
"We will continue to look at this technology, as I feel it is a valuable tool in law enforcement," said Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman.
(c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]