Spokane, Wash. – Dec. 4, 2019 – Manufacturers of police body-worn video cameras have sold approximately 400,000 cameras this year alone, mostly to U.S. agencies. Despite the prolific use of the visual evidence collections systems, few departments have trained their officers to properly examine the video. A recent survey conducted for the International Association of Chiefs of Police showed the vast majority of agencies in North America offer little or no training to investigators about how to properly use digital video evidence.
About 60 percent of the law enforcement agencies surveyed use body-worn or in-car video systems (or both), and more than 83 percent have interview room cameras. However, only two percent of agencies said their investigators had received training to interpret digital video evidence.
Agencies are discovering their officers are “video illiterate.”
iNPUT-ACE, the industry-leading video examination software for police investigators, has partnered with a number of agencies to help build “video literacy” training programs to improve the use and effectiveness of video evidence.
“Police departments are producing so much of their own video evidence, but few agencies really understand how to accurately interpret the evidence,” explained Grant Fredericks, director of law enforcement training for iNPUT-ACE and an instructor at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. “Thankfully, there are some large and small agencies that are working to change that.”
For example, Det. Michael Chiocca, who developed the Chicago Police Department’s three Area Technology Centers around iNPUT-ACE to analyze and manage digital video evidence, recognizes the importance of video training for investigators. He estimated about 80 percent of all CPD cases include some form of video evidence, with most footage acquired from proprietary digital video recording systems installed by local businesses. Until the training, access to the proprietary digital video had provided to be a significant challenge for detectives.
“We went from the Stone Age to the Space Age very quickly in our ability to handle digital video evidence. We were fortunate to find a single tool that has satisfied our need to play almost all proprietary video and to share that evidence with the State’s Attorney’s Office,” Chiocca said. “With additional training, we’re ensuring that our investigators have the knowledge, skills, and tools to do their job in a video age.”
Fredericks is a leading instructor for “Video Examinations for the Police Investigator,” a series of hands-on courses hosted by law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada. Specifically designed for criminal investigators with no previous video training, the two-day class guides attendees through the process of examining various types of video evidence that are often critical to use of force, speed estimation, violent crimes, and other identification-related cases. The course is scheduled for next month in Waipahu, Hawaii, and in February in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and North Las Vegas, Nev.
“Many law enforcement officials still think video evidence is the ‘silent witness’ that speaks for itself, but that’s a dangerous assumption – and it’s resulting in rampant misinterpretation of video evidence in court,” Fredericks added. “Because of compression errors, today’s digital video technology may not show a completely accurate representation of events. With iNPUT-ACE, we’ve developed a tool designed to help investigators ‘interrogate’ the video witness and make sure they can get to the truth of what happened.”
After Utah’s West Jordan Police Department recently hosted the course, Police Chief Ken Wallentine added iNPUT-ACE to the department’s network infrastructure, which gave investigators access to proprietary video evidence. “Investigators’ jaws dropped when they saw how digital video was actually created,” he recalled. “We are living in a digital age, and we are determined to build a more robust and reliable service for our community.”
Police Director Michael Rallings of the Memphis Police Department in Memphis, Tenn., vowed to develop a video literacy training program for his department’s 500 investigators after he attended a recent course. “There is not an investigator in our city that doesn’t touch video almost daily,” he said. “We owe it to our community to get it right.”
iNPUT-ACE video investigation software is the flagship product for Occam Video Solutions. Its simple drag-and-drop functionality makes iNPUT-ACE the video analysis and playback tool of choice for hundreds of law enforcement agencies, district attorneys’ offices, and traffic investigative units in more than a dozen countries. Occam Video Solutions provides introductory and advanced video examination courses for law enforcement investigators who use video in the course of their casework. Based in Spokane, Wash., the team at iNPUT-ACE is dedicated to providing an affordable and powerful video workflow engine to help police agencies expedite their digital video evidence examinations with accuracy and efficiency. Get more information at www.input-ace.com or call 213-596-0909.