New Technology Brings Body and Dash Cam Video Together

One major problem facing law enforcement officers today is the use of body cams and dash cams in the course of duty. While what these cameras are capable of capturing has been in the news a lot since the development of the body cam, there is another side to the story that doesn’t get quite as much coverage. The amount of information this camera doesn’t catch. But, what about the dash cam? Doesn’t it capture footage as well?

Two Cameras Working Together
The reality is that yes both the body cam and the dash cam do indeed capture video, they are doing so individually in a totally uncoordinated way. What if you could find a way to make the most use of these cameras to capture images from a number of vantage points. What if you could make it possible for all of the cameras, both body, and dash to be turned on and start recording at the exact same timed?
It is far too easy for one or more officers to forget to hit the record button in the event of a major incident. Doing this could lead to a lack of video evidence that could prove to be vital evidence in a future investigation. It could be the difference between being able to prove who is at fault and someone walking out of court Scot-free.
But, if it were possible for any single officer on the scene to turn on all nearby cameras at the same time, wouldn’t that make a huge difference? Not only would this provide law enforcement officers multiple recordings of the incident, these videos would be from a wide variety of angles.

New Software Making It Easier
New technology and software from companies like WatchGuard make it possible for all the videos from a particular incident to be instantly uploaded to a central database. Once stored here, the files can easily be accessed in the event they are needed as evidence. For example, in a case where there is a question as to whether a gun was involved, while a single video may not show it when there are several videos all taken from different angles, the weapon is far more likely to be seen in at least one of them.
From routine traffic stops to armed suspect encounters, the use of technology such as this can not only help prosecute the guilty, protect the innocent, and allow the judicial system and law enforcement officers do their jobs. While there is no doubt that being in law enforcement today is as challenging as it has ever been, technology like this goes a long way towards helping to protect the innocent and ensure the guilty are punished.
This type of technology will also go a long way towards making the use of both body and dash cams more acceptable in the eye of the public as it helps to reduce the level of crime and police brutality this country has been experiencing over the last few years.

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Gun-Mounted Cameras the Latest Tool for Cops – Are They a Good Idea?

It seems that technology continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace, with new tools showing up constantly. One of the newest devices to come along is the gun-mounted camera. This device is designed to activate record mode as soon as the officer draws his weapon from its holster. While they are still in short supply and not many departments have integrated them into the inventory. With all the hue and cry about unnecessary shootings and killings by police officers in the news, this technology might actually come in handy.

Added Angles

When it comes to an officer-involved shooting, there is no such thing as having too many camera angles and video recordings. Even if there are CCTV and body camera recordings of the incident, having a recording from a gun-mounted camera can make a huge difference in the outcome of an investigation.  However, investigators should not learn to rely on evidence supplied by more than one source.

While manufacturers claim the video captured by the gun-mounted camera is more apt to capture an unobstructed view of the shooting, this may not always be the case. When it comes to justifying a shooting or proving it was in error, the more camera angles that can be captured the more likely the exact chain of events can be established.

The Advantage of Automatically Coming On

While body cameras must be turned on by the officer wearing them and most departments require them to be on at all times while the officer is on duty, 100 percent compliance is never likely to actually occur. Since gun-mounted cameras are activated the moment the officer pulls his weapon, may help to ensure that at least some portion of the shooting is recorded on video, including sound. This can make the difference when it comes to determining who is found to be at fault in the event of a shooting involving a law enforcement officer.

Lack of Privacy Concerns

Privacy has long been an issue when it comes to the use of body cameras by members of law enforcement. But with gun-mounted cameras, not only do they come on only when drawn, but they have a much narrower field of view.  This means they don’t record a large number of the interactions between the officer and any civilians, but what they do record is those precious minutes after the officer has pulled his weapon and made the decision whether or not to use it.

In reality, these are the most important moments in any investigation and those that members of the public are most curious about. These videos can also be used in training officers how to react in certain situations and may, in fact, stop many officers from engaging in abusive behavior.  How this will play out remains to be seen as the deployment of gun-mounted cameras throughout law enforcement agencies across the country. In time they may become as important as body-mounted cameras in helping to protect both members of law enforcement and the public from abuse and unfounded accusations.

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Finding New Uses for Drones in the Aftermath of Hurricane Irma

Despite all of the negative press the use of surveillance drones has undergone since their inception, members of the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) made use of a pair of drones when Hurricane Irma was bearing down on their city. A small group of DBPD police officers used a number of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) equipped with high definition video cameras to survey areas around the city before Hurricane Irma arrived.

Widespread Damage Expected
With hurricane Irma predicted to churn her way up through the entire state causing massive widespread damage, the officers were creating reference photographs and videos that could be used to assess the damage left behind. The idea would be that the same group of officers would send their drones out to perform the same aerial surveillance as they had before Irma hit.

Why Is Drone Surveillance Like This Necessary?
There are many reasons why high definition images and videos such as these are vital before, during, and after a natural disaster such as hurricane Irma. The most important of these is the emergency services can use this information to help them determine which areas were most affected by the disaster and where they most need to send the teams of first responders.

The afterimages can also be used to determine where to send power crews to repair downed lines, where roads and storm drains are blocked or damaged. They can do all of this without having to put the life of a single member of law enforcement or emergency services person in harm’s way. On top of this, the drones being used by the DBPD were able to stream live video feed that let the police department with real-time information regarding things like damage, crime, people in distress, and so much more.

Another very important use of the video and images captured by the drones lies in helping to streamline the disbursement of funds from FEMA. These high-quality images from before and after, make it much easier for the agency to determine the extent of the damage done to help them direct funding where it is needed the most first.

Not Just About Buying Drones
However, before you go running to the Chief screaming you want to add drones to your surveillance gear, there are a few things you need to know. There is more to it than training some of your fellow officers to fly them successfully and at the same time capture usable images and footage. Before you can start your own UAS program, your department will new aviation department that is dedicated to manning the drones.

For most departments, this represents a significant financial investment. There will be new policies to be developed, manpower to be trained and repurposed, and of course, plenty of ongoing training to be considered. However, the next time your department has a missing person to search for or a major disaster on the way, you may find the investment more than worth it.

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From Body Cams to Drones – Winning the Fight

Despite the continued advancement in high-tech devices available to law enforcement officers today, a certain amount of crime will always remain. While it might be technically possible for law enforcement to eliminate virtually all crime, the high cost of running such a dystopian police state such as that portrayed in George Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” makes it highly unlikely.

Nineteen Eighty-Four Becomes Reality
In his novel, Orwell predicted a state in which the public’s every move was watched by millions of CCTV cameras manned by an even larger number of law enforcement officers. Back in 1949, when this book was written, no one ever thought this could happen. Yet if you go to the U.K. it won’t take you long to see the countless CCTV cameras mounted virtually everywhere.

It would seem that Orwell’s view of the future that so many scoffed at back in 1949 when it was written, is now becoming more of a reality than most want to believe. From police operated CCTV cameras to those owned and operated by private citizens, in the U.K. you are constantly being watched by someone unless you are in the privacy of your own home.

Technology Continues to Prove Its Worth
Technologies such as the telephone, two-way radios, polygraphs, even fingerprinting have all advanced the abilities of law enforcement. Here in the U.S., the universal emergency phone number 911 came into being in 1968. Over the course of the next 30 years, we have seen a rise in community policing, DNA technology and testing, computerization. These new technologies have been followed by the development of body cams and rapid advancements in crime prevention strategies.

Once the standard camera was considered a vital tool in solving crime, but today the average camera has been relegated to the history files. The use of CCTV, body cams, dash cams, and smartphones with very capable cameras, have rendered them virtually worthless. Cameras are also being mounted on unmanned aerial drones that can provide still shots or live video feeds. Law enforcement also has the ability to track people using their cell phones.

Not as Effective as Hoped
While there are an estimated 4 to 5.9 million CCTV cameras in use in the U.K. covering an estimated 65 million residents, research has shown that their use in reducing crime has not been as effective as had been hoped. The problem is that criminals who are intent on committing crimes already know of their existence and how to avoid being recognized by those operating the cameras. For instance, pulling a hood over your head is enough to ensure they are not recognizable.

In 2012, the FAA passed new regulations making it possible for law enforcement agencies could use drones equipped with cameras. This technology could be adapted in the future to include drones equipped with weaponry, drones that could serve warrants, and much more. Technology exists that allows the video captured by these drones to be fed into highly capable face recognition software. Accordingly, the FBI currently maintains a database that now contains over 30 million mug shots, a number that grows every day.

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Law Enforcement Officers and the First Amendment

Let’s start off by taking a look at the First Amendment as it is written in the United States Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The intent of this amendment was essential to protect citizens from unfair prosecution or punishment if they made statements that were unpopular with others. But, how does the First Amendment stack up with regard to law enforcement officers? After all, they are citizens, aren’t they? Shouldn’t you as a police officer have the right to express your opinions?

Protected from Government Oppression
Ideally, the First Amendment was designed to protect an individual’s right to free speech without government oppression. At the same time, the amendment does not protect the individual from legal action taken on behalf of another individual or company. The story is a little different for police officers as they are considered to be a local, state, or federal employee. While they do still technically retain their First Amendment rights, how much of them they retain various depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

According to the findings in the case of Pickering vs. Board of Education 391 U.S. 563, 568 (1968), if a police officer is to have protected free speech, anything they say has to be “a matter of public concern. ” It was the court’s finding that a court will be the one to determine, on a case by case basis, whether a police officer’s speech or statement is a matter of public concern. The court also went on to say that, “public employees do not surrender all their First Amendment rights by reason of their employment.”

Speaking as a Member of the Public
Under this ruling, LEOs continue to enjoy their right to speak as a private citizen when they are talking about matters that are of public concern. It is up to the courts to decide what does or does not constitute a matter of public concern and whether the officer was speaking as a citizen, in which case his rights are fully protected under the First Amendment, or if he was speaking in an official capacity. If he was speaking as a police officer, his speech may not be protected.

No matter how you look at it, as a law enforcement officer, it is your job to police your speech and determine what may or may not be protected. Bear in mind that the concept of free speech and any violations of an officers right to it extend to the many forms of social media in use today, where so many inappropriate statements and comments appear on a daily basis. Expect new rules and regulations regarding what you, as a peace officer, need to do to avoid being caught up in this type of mess.

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Protecting Yourself as a Law Enforcement Officer in the Age of Technology

Thanks to the seemingly unending generation of video recording devices, more officers are being recorded doing their jobs than ever before. The general public is now recording everything from a minor traffic stop to a simple arrest. While this shouldn’t really be a problem, the public takes these recordings, edits them or displays only small segments of these recordings with the sole intention of making the officer in the video look like he is at fault.

Prior to the advent of the smartphone and more recently the dash cam, the number of these recording has skyrocketed. It has reached the point at which all law enforcement officers need to be given specialized training to ensure they realize that their every action could be being recorded by the person they are dealing with or virtually anyone with a smartphone.

First Amendment Rights Violations
Over the course of the last few years, a number of lower Federal Courts have ruled that citizens’ rights to record officers in the line of duty are protected under the First Amendment. With this in mind, here are five tips designed to help officers deal with the potential of being recorded.

1. At all times when dealing with a member of the public during an arrest or a traffic stop, assume you are being recorded. To avoid any risk of your actions being misconstrued, it is important for you to maintain your composure and be polite as well as courteous.

2. Never get into any type of debate regarding a citizen’s rights to video record you in the line of duty. Arguments like these almost always end up making you as the LEO look bad and are never productive.

3. If you are aware you are being recorded and the person is being difficult or combative, it is vital you remain calm and enunciate your commands clearly while remaining polite at all times. Be sure to explain what is going on carefully to the citizen along with why it is happening.

4. While a citizen may have the right to record your actions, there may be times when you need to take action to protect your safety and that of others involved. There have been a number of cases in which the courts ruled in favor of the LEO because he acted to protect himself and others.

5. Be sure you have taken the time to review your department’s policies regarding being recording by members of the public. Knowing this information may help ensure you act appropriately when being recorded and could prove vital in the event of a hearing regarding your conduct.

These are good general rules to go by, but the most important thing to remember is that as long as you are acting in accordance with your department’s policies and in a manner befitting your job as a law enforcement officer, you should have no problem. Every situation you are likely to encounter is going to be different, but knowing that you may be being recorded and acting in accordance with this, is the best way to protect yourself from potential lawsuits and charges of misconduct.

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Continued Cyber Attacks Place Police Department Information at Risk

In recent months, the number of hackers attempting to and in many cases accessing police department computers and databases has increased significantly. When you stop to think about the type of information stored in these systems, such as personal information, much of this data can be used to put law enforcement officers at risk.

Doxing Puts Officers at Risk
Cyberattacks, including doxing, which is when personal information is released online to the public, are increasingly putting law enforcement officers and their families at risk. A perfect example of this occurred shortly after the officer involved shooting in Ferguson, MO when the well-known hacker group Anonymous released personal information about Police Chief Jon Belmar on the web. Not only this, but they also released photos of Belmar and his family, his home address, and his phone number.

By the numbers, it is starting to look very grim for the “Boys in Blue” as there was an increase of 56 percent in the number of officers killed from 2015 to 2016. In 2016 64 officers were killed in the line of duty and of those, approximately one third lost their lives to ambush-style killings.

The problem is only expected to get worse as more personal information like this is released to the public. As this information becomes available, it makes it easier for those who have a beef with their local law enforcement officers to resort to violence against the officers in an attempt to take action for what they feel are injustices. It also makes it more important than ever for every member of law enforcement and their families to do everything they can to protect themselves and their personal information.

Aging Equipment Multiplies the Problem
From big city police departments to small towns and villages, one of the biggest problems tends to be aging computer equipment. These systems with their outdated operating systems and programming are far easier for hackers to successfully infiltrate. Small older departments simply may not have the money to upgrade their systems. But this doesn’t mean they can’t still be doing their part to prevent hackers from accessing their databases.
One of the best possible ways to keep hackers at bay is to be very wary when opening emails. Quite simply put, if you don’t recognize the sender, you should not open the email. By doing this, you can significantly reduce the possibility of hackers being able to access your system and the sensitive data it contains.

Help from the Department of Homeland Security
If you are interested in more information designed to help you protect your department’s database and keep the information it contains safe, the Department of Homeland Security has put together a wealth of information. Their website contains a number of simple things you can do without spending a lot of money your department may not have to spend. In the end, it is up to you and the officers in your department to do your part to protect your database and each other from hackers and personal attacks.

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Privacy for Cops Acquires PolicePrivacy.com

The Public Safety Assistance Foundation (“PSAF”), which operates as PrivacyforCops.org, has always been here to provide online opt-out services for members of law enforcement, public officials, and their families. Over the years, PSAF has been instrumental in helping to remove the private information of thousands of law enforcement officers and their families from countless online databases.

Why is this important you ask? The answer is simple, in this day and age our men and women in blue are not only under constant surveillance, but threats from those who would do them physical, emotional, and yes financial harm. In the early days, we focused our efforts in California with California sworn officers and officials, but thanks in part to our success and the support of our affiliates and numerous police officer associations, we are now able to reach out to law enforcement agencies around the country.

Who Is PolicePrivacy.com?
PolicePrivacy.com was founded in 2005 by California law enforcement officers. PolicePrivacy.com and PSAF were the initial two companies pioneering the Privacy Letter Packages for all elected and appointed officials in the state of California. Both organizations shared the same vision to help fellow law enforcement officers protect their privacy from those who would do them harm. Together, we share the same goals and try to provide our members with the latest information covering information removal.

Why Acquire PolicePrivacy.com?
With so many different ways to find personal information online, criminals and those with criminal intent, are finding ways to locate police officers and their families. Staying safe continues to become harder and harder virtually every day.

With two like-minded organization servicing the same industry, it made perfect sense to merge the two together in order to provide better coverage, more details, and of course reach more members of law enforcement. From helping you learn how to set up the privacy settings on your Facebook page to showing you how to keep your information at City Hall more secure, PSAF and PolicePrivacy.com is here to help.

Join us in this merger and let us help protect your privacy and that of your loved ones. Safety is everyone’s business, protecting your privacy starts here.

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Give Your Memory a Boost Using “Kim’s Game”

As a member of law enforcement, having an excellent memory is critical to your ability to do your job effectively. Unless you are a recent member of specific crack military units, you have probably never had much in the way of memory training. There are many different methods and programs you can take part in that have been proven to improve a person’s memory, one of which is Kim’s Game.

What Is Kim’s Game?
The story of Kim’s Game is told in Rudyard Kipling’s book “Kim” that was first published in 1901. The book tells the story of a young Irish immigrant who goes by the name Kim and how he was trained by the Indian government to be a spy for their intelligence agency. Kim’s training involved a great many things, one of the most important of which was memory training.

The memory training involved the use of a tray containing a number of gems and miscellaneous stones. Kim would be allowed to study the tray for one minute, after which it was covered with a cloth. At this point, Kim would be asked to list everything he saw on the tray. While this might seem to be a bit simplistic, memory training like this continues to be used by military units around the world. It is even used by the Boy Scouts to help scouts improve their memories.

Easy Game to Play
Kim’s Game is incredibly easy to play and takes at least 2 people to play. Of course, you can involve your entire shift meeting in it by giving each officer a sheet of paper to write down what they saw. You might be surprised at how quickly some people’s memories will improve. To add more challenge to the game, you can add more items or shorten viewing time.

According to history, during World War I, British Major Hesketh-Pritchard included Kim’s Game in his sniper training program. He wanted his snipers to be able to report back everything they saw each time they went out on a mission. At U.S. Army Sniper Training School, the snipers are not allowed to name the items they see. Instead of saying one paper clip, they have to describe it in great detail. One piece of silver wire that has been bent into two ovals.

U.S. Army training expands even further on the original game by stretching out the time between seeing the items and when the snipers-in-training are allowed to list them. By the end of training, trainees may see up to 25 items and then be required to train all day long before being asked to list them.

Although you might think you have a reasonably good memory, you just might be surprised at how much of a struggle trying to remember 20 or more items can be if you are only given a minute or less to see them. However, after only a few weeks of playing Kim’s Game, you will be even more surprised to see just how much better your memory is. Something that can make a huge difference in your ability to do your job.

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Protecting Your Online Banking Information

Do you know the best way to do your online banking? Should you be using a wired connection, WiFi, or some form of powerline networking? Not sure? The reality is that for the most part what form of internet connection you use is not quite as important as you might think. However, the simple fact you are asking this question means you are taking a serious approach to your online security.

Back to the Internet Question
Most experts would agree that a wired connection tends to be more secure a powerline network or WiFi. If you are not sure what powerline networking is, it’s when your internet connection comes from the electrical power lines coming into your home. To access an Ethernet connection, the would-be thief would have to be able to enter your home with a laptop. However, as WiFi signals extend beyond the walls of your home, the same thief would simply have to be in range of your signal.

The good news is that both WiFi and powerline network routers use a variety of encryption techniques that once turned on scramble the data. To access the data, a password must be entered. At the same time, most WiFi routers use outdated WEP encryption is easily hacked. On top of this, if you don’t bother to change the factory set password, a hacker can easily change the settings in your router to direct your internet traffic to a rogue site. This same problem can occur when using third-party WiFi hotspots.

Go for Two-Step Verification
These days it seems that no matter what type of internet connection you use, someone can find a way to access your data. Most banks, financial institutions, and major sites like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, no offer a “two-step” verification option designed to protect you in the event your password is lost.

These systems require you to vouch for any login request you make, some do this when you log in from an unknown computer or location by entering a special one-time password sent to your cell phone via text messaging or through some form of authenticator such as companies like Google and Blizzard Entertainment (online games) use.

While not all financial institutions have come on board the “two-step” verification bandwagon if you are lucky enough to belong to one that does, be sure you use it. No form of online security system is completely fail-safe. But at the same time, it falls on you to do everything in your power to keep your personal banking information as secure as possible.

The idea behind this article was not to scare you into doing less of your banking online, but instead to encourage you to take the steps necessary to make it safer. It was also to encourage you to do more of your banking online and to pay more attention to your online security as well as that of your family and keep you all out of harm’s way.

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