The Kaua‘i Police Department has started using a new version of an old idea, installing high-tech digital video cameras into two of its patrol vehicles, with plans to expand the pilot program in the near future.
The new cameras, embedded into rear view mirrors for maximum convenience and safety, replace old models that used VHS tapes, required expensive upkeep and finally stopped working years ago, according to Off. James Miller, who spearheaded the procurement effort over the last two years.
Miller said the new systems, purchased from Digital Ally Inc. amongst a slew of camera options, can be installed into a vehicle in less than an hour, are the first of their kind in the state of Hawai‘i and will protect both the KPD and the public.
“If you know you have a videotape recording, you’re going to be on your best behavior,” Miller said. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Furthermore, the KPD has purchased two flashlights that are capable of recording digital video when in use and four other in-mirror cameras to be installed into patrol vehicles in coming months.
Miller said that he would eventually like to see all of KPD’s Patrol Services Bureau equipped with both the flashlights and in-car video systems.
The in-car systems are constantly recording, but automatically erase. When an officer triggers the patrol vehicle’s lights and sirens, the system retains the previous 60 seconds of video to provide background information that occurred even before the officer became aware of law-breaking behavior.
The video could prove to be crucial evidence in helping convict criminals at trial.
“It’s to move our cases forward, to show the defense attorney, the judge and the jury the whole circumstances as they unfolded,” KPD Chief Darryl Perry said.
County prosecutor Craig De Costa said video has proven especially useful in DUI cases
“It can corroborate an officer’s report,” De Costa said.
The systems will help with both officer and public safety, as the recording “either affirms or denies claims of police wrongdoing” and said the hefty price tags of $3,995 apiece for the in-mirror cameras and $1,495 apiece for the flashlights are outweighed by the technology’s value, according to Perry.
“It’s worth more than that,” he said. “Litigation could cost millions of dollars, so it’s worth an investment of a few thousand to cover us and protect the county.”
For more information on the new video systems, visit www.digitalallyinc.com
• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at email@example.com