Body Cameras on Police Officers
The key police accountability tool
In America, police body cameras were already introduced in 1998. Today, they are official policing equipment in over 30 big cities and they are becoming increasingly more prevalent throughout the country. This promising tool records events in which the police officers are involved. Their main goal is to provide transparency and safety but they can also be used for training purposes.
It is of immense importance that the police officers are considered legitimate in the public eye. Legitimacy is closely linked with transparency and liability thus police departments are trying hard to strengthen those virtues among their officers. Body cameras are proven to be a good tool for that purpose, since it is an unbiased device which gives an objective documentation of disputable events. Also, if police officers are recorded with body cameras while on duty, they tend to be significantly more productive when it comes to arrests. Also, citizens make about 30% less complaints against the police officers who wear a body cam. Even if complains occur, it seems that most of the times body camera records are more likely to support officer actions rather than harm them.
Related to police body cameras, there has been talk among researches about a phenomenon called civilizing effect. Civilizing effect improves interactions between officers and the public, reduces violence on both sides, since officer wearing body cams are less likely to behave inappropriately, and citizens, if they know that they are being videotaped, are also less aggressive, don’t flee and don’t resist the arrest. All that reduces the use of force by the police and increases safety for citizens and policeman.
Video recordings of officers on duty give the police departments an opportunity to analyze real-life situations and to see if the officers are acting according to department rules. If they analyze the material objectively and critically, the police departments can benefit a lot and implement their findings into different sorts of training aimed to advance and improve the accountability of their police officers and help rebuild community trust.
Are there any potential drawbacks to body-worn cameras?
Every new technology that is introduced into our lives has its flaws, and the police cam is no exception. Money is the first concern, i.e. the existing body camera programs are just too expensive to maintain. The costs of the cameras are tolerable, but storing all the data that the police departments collect costs a fortune. To tackle this problem and help finance the programs, the Justice Department offers grants.
Another downside of body-worn cams is the privacy and surveillance issue, an ongoing concern since the rise of Internet. How to address this problem? Ohio might have found the answer. The Ohio Legislature passed a new law, which makes the recordings of the body cameras subject to open record laws, but then exempts private and sensitive footage from disclosure if there is no permission of the video’s subject to use them. This is a win-win situation: more transparency but not at the expense of citizen privacy.
Transcription of Audio and Video Materials from body-worn cameras
The first step: the police departments need to have the required equipment. As we already mentioned, the Justice Department offers grants worth $18 million to police departments which should be used for the body-worn cameras program. There are some practice guides and recommendation on how to implement these programs, for example: When exactly should police officers record – only during calls for service or also during informal conversations with members of the public? Are officers required to inform subjects when they are recording? Do they need the person’s consent to record?
Once the police officer finished his shift, the material that the body camera has recorded needs to be stored. The police department stores the video either on an in-house server (managed internally and usually used by smaller police departments) or on an online cloud database (managed by a third-party vendor and used by bigger departments with huge amounts of daily recorded materials).
Now it’s time to transcribe the recording. There are inhouse transcription services that rely on tapes, CDs and DVDs and they are usually not very efficient. Done this way, the transcription process turns out to be time-consuming and thus often slows down potential cases.
Gglot offers a fast and entirely digital transcription service. We have a platform where the police department can easily upload their recordings and we will start working on the transcription right away. We work fast and precise! After Gglot has finished the transcription, it returns the written files to the police departments (or other offices, per client´s wishes).
Now, we will indicate some benefits for outsourcing transcription services:
Why is the transcription of the body-worn camera recording important?
Body camera footage is transcribed to help documenting dialogs, record events accurately and analyze police language. They are highly valued resources for the law enforcement.
Transcriptions are formatted and usable versions of the body-worn camera footage. It makes the life of the police and prosecutors easier by allowing them to manage the vast material and find details and key words quickly. This accelerates the legal process.
Also, sometimes the documents will need to be presented in court as evidence. As you can imagine, in that case, it is extremely important to have an accurate transcription.
Transcriptions are especially useful in official police reports, since you can easily copy and paste quotes from the footage. The final product is an accurate recording of events.
Audio and video materials from body-worn cameras can also be used to develop evidence-based remedies for racial disparities. Researchers can use transcribed text to monitor how the police interacts with different members of the community and can draw conclusions from the footage after thoroughly analyses.
Besides police body camera footage, the police already use transcriptions for a wide range of other police activities: suspect and victim interviews, witness statements, confessions, investigative reports, accident and traffic reports, inmate phone calls, depositions etc.
Use our transcription service
To conclude, transcribing body camera recordings can help police departments to simplify their everyday work. If they want to save valuable time of their employees, the best way is to outsource the transcription service. How can we help? Just upload your records here at Gglot and we will send you the transcribed files – fast, accurate, reliable and complete!