For the Last 25 years there are two basic types of in-car camera systems – portable and fixed. Historically, most fixed cameras are trunk-mounted VHS systems and are used exclusively as evidence gathering tools in front of police vehicles. While these systems have a large following with state agencies most local and county departments prefer the portable units. The cost associated with fixed system repairs and maintance is too much for most departments budgets.
VHS video recorders image resolution 200 lines
Hi8mm Video recorders image resolution 400 lines
As the use of law enforcement video cameras became more common place, prosecutors, police chiefs, sheriffs and patrol officers identified many other evidence gathering applications. More versatile video systems were required -- ones that could be used not only in the traditional sense, but also by officers outside the vehicle. The money saved in officer over time and court cost is dramactic. And since fixed camera systems saved taxpayer dollars by increasing the number of guilty pleas, collecting evidence outside the vehicle at crime scenes was just plain common sense.
Today, evidence gathered by officers with in-car video systems has become a necessity to reduce potential liability suits, insurance costs, and citizen complaints: Currently most departments will offer a settlement offer to anyone who brings suit of usually around $10,000. This amount is paid over and over again throught the year. The cost of Martel in car video systems is only $1495.00 per system. It is more cost effetvie to have an incar system so when the large law suit comes you have the evidence to win. Dont leave you department out in the cold!
* A Colorado police chief estimated citizen complaints dropped 98% with use of mobile video systems.
* Another Police Sergeant Gary Hershberger, Indiana in Our Department recently purchased two of your dash mounted “Dash-Hound” Hi-8 in-car video systems. Let me first say that we are very happy with this purchase. For less than the cost of one VHS system we could purchase three more of your Hi-8 systems. The quality of the video and sound on your systems far exceed that of VHS system.
I have used the VHS systems before, and I personally believe that the VHS systems are simply not made to be used for an in-car video system. Even the more expensive VHS systems have a great many faults. These systems are basically a VCR that you might use at home that is shoved into a metal vault and then installed either in a trunk or under the seat of your patrol car. Do we really expect these systems to last very long? Here on the bumpy roads of Indiana they don’t last long. Either the VCR itself is not working or the cables that are buried under the seat that run between the camera and the vault get smashed. And sometimes the camera itself just won’t work. And if all is well the camera system works fine, but the patrol car itself is down for repairs. So now you have an expensive camera system that can’t easily be removed, in a patrol car that is out of service.
* Consent to search captured on video, effectively eliminates argument later.
* The Mason Police Department, Chief Jason Collins,T enesee has dramatically increased its successful prosecution rate of domestic violence cases. Our DUI conviction rates have doubled with ease. The defense attorneys will look at their client on a clear video stream taken from the officers camera system and will want to plea. The "My Video Partner" video system is a must for any agency. The camera system is very easy to install and operate. In December 2001, one of my officers was involved in a vehicle pursuit in which resulted in a very violent crash. The "My Video Partner" video system sustained no damage and did not interfere with either airbags. The video system held in place during the pursuit and the crash. I am currently looking forward to outfitting all of my patrol units with the "My Video Partner" video system.
* Another Police Chief in California told us that he spent around $5000 on a vhs system which was secured in a trunk with a vault so the officers could not tamper with the evidence. He felt confindent at first. Then one of the cars camera was not working. The officer was sticking a $1 black sock over the camers lense therefore making the vault useless. The officer has forted the $5000 system with a $1 black sock. So if you have personaal problems you will find out fast whether you spend $5000, or $1500.
Mobile camera systems enable almost unlimited ability to gather evidence:
* Surveillance: of drug dealers,illegal immigration, smugglers and busts.
* Intelligence Gathering: From gang observation to organized crime activity.
* Evidence Collection: In pursuit, at traffic collision sites, of vandalism, and on burglary and homicide crime scenes,.
* Evidence Collection: Of objects in original position within a suspect’s vehicle, such as open containers, drug paraphernalia, and concealed weapons and even evidence thrown away in the dark.
* Drunk Driving Documentation: Total incident records from field sobriety testing to arrest, transport, and booking.
* Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Victims: Timely accounting of physical condition and emotional state of victims; reduced necessity for multiple interview sessions, stressful to victims.
* Substantiation: Incontestable reports when basic integrity is questioned through accusations.
Most everyday there is an overwhelming amount of additional evidence continues to be collected by officers using portable systems. As you decide which system to buy, here are some factors you may want to consider regarding mobile/portable versus fixed systems.
1. Fixed systems generally are built around industrial grade VHS equipment due to the initial belief that VHS was better suited for the rugged nature of law enforcement. Most vhs recorders use alot of rubber belts and reuire head maitence every certain amount of recording hours. While there are differences in consumer and industrial grade equipment in VHS technology, there is minimal distinction between 8mm consumer and industrial systems in terms of quality and service. VHS is old technology atleast 25 years old. while 8mm technology is more current and delivers much higher quality video, sound and serviceability. Also 8mm cameras use gears inside not rubber belts so maintence is not required.
2. The better question to ask is not about industrial or consumer equipment, but about repair rates of the two different systems. You’ll want to determine how much it will cost to maintain your systems before and after warranty periods. You will find that downtime and maintenance costs of fixed systems are much greater than portable systems. An extreme example we are aware of is a department that paid an annual maintenance contract of $50,000 for twenty fixed systems. Martel Electronics extended warranty prices for parts and labor, based on past and current repair experience, are nominal. Our Dash-hound warranty is $120 per year.
3. The claim that it is essential to secure VHS or any other tape unit in a vault in the car trunk is unsubstantiated by fact. Actual occurrences of tapes being stolen from an officer’s vehicle are rare. To date, we have knowledge of only one tape being stolen when an officer was killed during a routine traffic stop. Information from fellow officers indicate the killer took the car keys, opened the trunk, unlocked the vault and took the tape. This is a example of good adevertising and selling a idea that is not based in facts. While anything is possible, factual examples are extremely rare of officer's tapes being stolen from either the trunk or the dash. Since incidence of a tape being stolen is so low and the opportunity for an officer to collect evidence outside the vehicle is so great, the cost/benefit evaluation greatly favors our portable technology.
4. The same is true for claims that it is essential for tape to be secured in a fireproof and bullet resistant vault. Statistically, police vehicles are rarely shot or burned.
During your research, we ask you to distinguish between meaningful and meaningless sales points and to remember that portable in-car video technology saves tax dollars in two primary ways:
1. Portable systems are less costly to purchase, install, and maintain than typical fixed systems.
2. Their versatility enables law enforcement officers to gather more evidence which reduces prosecution/investigation costs, and increases guilty plea ratios.
To conclude, please don’t hesitate to ask if there is any additional information you require that will help you make the right equipment choice for your department. Call us at 1-800-553-5536 or visit our website at www.marteldirect.com
One Final Note About Martel's Portable Systems:
There are other portable systems on the market. But are they suitable for law enforcement purposes? Martel Electronics's special engineers have designed features into its systems to be significant improvements for law enforcement use. These additional electronic features distinguish Martel Electronics's systems from mere off-the-shelf camcorders that have been put on a mounting bracket. These features include the quick disconnect which makes it easy and fast to take the camera out of the vehicle and put it back in the car.
User selected emergency light activation starts the system automatically when the lights are turned on for either a traffic stop or high speed chase. Many times during an emergency the last thing an officer is thinking about is his or her camera system. Emergency light activation solves the problem of not having the video evidence when it is most desperately needed.
Also, the belt transmitter should be able to activate the camera. If, for whatever reason, the system has not been started either manually or when the emergency lights have been turned on, the transmitter should be able to activate the system from thousand feet away from the vehicle.
In addition, Martel Electronics's systems have covert microphones in the front seat as standard features. This microphone are muted when the transmitter is turned on and activated when the transmitter is turned off. When suspects are placed in the patrol car turning the belt transmitter off allows the system to record the suspects' conversation.
Key locks are not necessary since the time date code is placed on the tape and can not be easliy changed.
Radio frequency interference from two-way radios can also cause significant problems. Martel Electronics's system designers have anticipated all possible types of interference and extensive filtering has been added to the circuitry to minimize the effects of this RF interference. The feature is called tone key lock and auto tracking to keep the signal locked in.
Along the same line, Martel Electronics's belt transmitter frequencies are chosen from 16 difference frequencies and 1000 different PL tones. This makes interference from other transmitters almost impossible. Should this become a problem Martel Electronics changes frequencies and PL tones. Squelch only transmitters have a significantly higher probability of receiving interference from other officers or even fast food chains.
While disposable AA-volt batteries can be used with the transmitter, Martel Electronics supplies rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries and battery chargers to insure continual power for the belt transmitter. This also helps to keep the costs of operating the system to a minimum. Desktop charge can sharge 2 units at one time.
Finally, there is the issue of air bag compatibility. Martel Electronics has worked with automotive engineers to make sure its systems do not interfere with air bag deployment and use. Martel offer a free 30 day evalution period for any police department just fax your request on your departments letter head to 1-800-553-6954.
Thank You for your time.
Martel's Law Enforcement Division