Friday, March 30, 2012

Video Cameras in Law Enforcement

Through out the history of law enforcement there has been much advancement in the technology that is used. I feel one of the most vital tools to law enforcement would be the advancements made possible by the use of a camera. A camera has many tools available to law enforcement, from photograph taking to recording also recording audio.  When looking to purchase a camera for law enforcement use there are many things to consider. Cameras can be used for evidence in a traffic stop and also be used as a vital training tool. These reasons are why cameras are so important in law enforcement.
            Cameras have a wide variety of functions that can be taken advantage of by law enforcement officials.  One tool that can be used is the ability to take a photo at a crime scene. I feel that this applies directly to the quote “ a picture is worth a thousand words”. The image of a crime scene can speak much more than just a sketch of the scene. “Digital cameras have a number of advantages when used in forensic photography as they require no chemical processing, can be displayed on the camera straight after being taken to ensure that the image was captured and the photos can be immediately transferred to a computer and stored in the database”(ThinkQuest)A sketch is unable to show the damage done in a violent crime such as blood splatter, blood pool, bloody hand marks. The ability to show them in a sketch is possible but the image of actually seeing it can speak to a jury more than just a sketch. To actually see a body laying on the ground lifeless I think brings that person to life for a  jury instead  of  just  being a stick figure on the ground they are able to see something even as small as hair color and they can relate that to a loved one that has the same hair color as them and then the message starts to become more clear to them. This can also be a disadvantage as well and possibly send an innocent man to jail because the jury was so caught up with the goriness of a crime, but that’s what defense attorneys are for. A video can also be used for the same purposes of recording a crime scene where an officer would walk through with a video camera and go from an area of large then focus in on certain details such as a bloody hand, foot prints weapons, and any other types of evidence. “Video cameras also provide an easy and inexpensive way to document crime scenes and can give the jury with a more realistic sense of the crime scene than still pictures of a room. The zoom on video cameras are however, more often digital rather than optical and thus provide pictures of slightly less clarity than actual photographs. Videos are in general a good briefing tool for police officers who have not visited the crime scene”(Think quest) When taking photos there are certain techniques that are very important in to capturing it properly “Close-up shots of evidence have precise requirements, such as exactness, angle taken and balance, in order to achieve the best possible shots. These pictures of evidence form a factual record and must be able to be reproduced in terms of size, shape and color, thus, balance and accuracy is an absolute must. The use of basic camera flash and flood lights are quite sufficient for general crime scene photography, but close-up shots of evidence require careful lighting. Artificial sources of light have proved very useful in the photography of evidence. An example of this concerns oblique-angled light, whereby the light is angled or slanted towards the subject. This is used for bringing out the detail in textured surfaces, such as foot and shoe prints left in mud”(Think Quest) Another way that cameras are used can be for interrogation purposes. Many of the interrogations that take place now are usually videotaped with a clock in the room and sometimes a thermostat. This helps with the creditability of the police officers so that they can refer to this if the suspect says he was beat kept there for to long or some times to cold. They can just show the video of it and all disputes are done.
            Cameras have a wide varity of uses in law enforcement, Each as important as the next. Can be used a vital tool or a huge knock down for much of law enforcement. Cameras have drastically impacted the law enforcement profession and with many other advancements coming who knows what else cameras will bring to us.


  1. I thought this article was interesting. I think there could be a whole article done about the restrictions that cameras have put on law enforcement. Cameras in police vehicles can not only be used to understand what happened, but also to punish, and sometimes fire officers. It restricts their ability to act human sometimes. I have seen many cases where officers have been fired or severly reprimanded due to the heat that came from something that happened on the camera. The sad part about it, is many of these were things I couldn't quite understand why the officer would be punished so severly. Overall, cameras have been a great advancement for law enforcement, but there are always drawbacks.

  2. I agree that cameras are a very important tool in law enforcement. Digital cameras have given crime scene investigators the opportunity to record the scene exactly as it was when they first arrived. This enables detectives and investigators to have the ability to study the crime scene after it has been contaminated by officers and non-law enforcement personnel.

    Video cameras have also been very important in law enforcement, especially dash cams. Dash cams not only record and preserve evidence, but they also protect the public by keeping tabs on the behavior of officers during stops. I also believe the evolution of cameras will be beneficial to law enforcement. Cameras have come a long way from instant pictures to digital images. The future of cameras and computer technology will enable investigators to get a better sense of what happened at crime scenes, which should allow them to be more efficient and effective with their jobs.

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