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Dash-Cams Keep Record: Recording Officers' Interactions with the Public with Mobile Video Isn't Enough, SOPs Must Clarify How Video is Captured and Stored

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 36 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2009 Pages: 10,14,19
Peter Hildebrandt
Date Published
February 2009
7 pages
This article describes South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s use of the mobile video system as an effective tool for recording both criminal activity and negative police officer interactions, and discusses the need for clarity within standard operating procedures (SOPs) on how the video is captured and stored.
Dashboard cameras or mobile video systems have the ability to give law enforcement officers an effective tool for recording criminal activity, as well as departmental policy violations and police officer misconduct. This article discusses the South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s review of incidences captured on in-car video recording systems and the institution of policy change requiring all personnel to “report and challenge any unethical behavior” of colleagues. Current policy stipulates that officers operating a patrol vehicle equipped with a mobile video system activate the in-car system, as soon as the vehicle blue lights and/or siren begin to flash. The system is to remain on as long as the officer interacts with the individual(s) being stopped. A sensitivity training program was also implemented for new recruits and as part of the department’s annual in-service training. The mobile video systems are designed to protect all parties involved in a call, be it suspect, victims, or the officers themselves. From law enforcement’s perspective, having mobile video of every traffic stop offers a bit of risk management.