Alabama police fitted with Reveal RS2-X2 body cameras
Earlier this year, Marcus Christianson of Greenville, Alabama Police Department outfitted police officers with Reveal RS2-X2 body cameras after an extensive search for a solution that matched his department’s needs.
“I started researching body cameras years ago, long before Ferguson.” Christianson said.
“Our in-car units were aging and needed to be replaced, and when you think they are around $4500 on average – body cameras were the cheaper way to go.
Our Chief is the one who wanted to go with body cameras – years ago we had played with some Scorpion cameras so we experimented with how they can work.
And we trialled quite a few different cameras actually before we found Reveal – Digital Ally, Axon, Wolfcom… One of those companies never even got round to sending me a test unit. Our computer vendor brought me one to look at as well, but it was horrible, lots of exposed micro ports on the outside, not weatherproof at all.
The guys really like the operation of the Reveal camera; it’s easy to use. They also like to view video on the screen in the field and when writing the reports. It’s real simple, you turn it on and you turn it off, the guys don’t have to mess with it. It’s a solid camera.
But it was the back office software that made us go with Reveal; it’s capabilities with managing evidence – you know, I like to shop around and find the best deal for our money – and there are other cameras out there which are great cameras, but if you’re tied in to contracts or tied down to using a particular model then they can be horrible for downloading footage and storage. The Chief also said the storage had to be local and DEMS gave us that flexibility. Cloud is pretty new and I prefer in-house storage anyway because we have total control of the data here. You can get in a lawsuit real quick if data gets out for any reason – privacy and security are important.
We’ve got DEMS on a work group setting, which means we have a computer that is the server and I have DEMS clients in the briefing room where the officers pick up their cameras, on the Chief’s computer so he can see what’s going on, and also on the control commander’s computer.
We have set up some custom retention policies – which were simple to set up – the software is pretty simple to use really. It’s good that it recognises and manages the cameras, whether the software is running or not and Reveal have a good handle on which features are useful instead of offering a whole bunch of features that we would never use. For example, some systems out there can do lots of stuff, but they were too much – it’s too big brotherish to be able to track officers with GPS, for example. We wanted something simple that was going to cover the officer’s tail, not micromanage them.
Our Reveal cameras are mainly there to protect the officers – they are less of a management tool, more of a backup for the officer, and they know that now. The initial reaction from the officers was cautious, but it was made clear that it’s not a micromanagement tool – it’s to help and protect them and their actions and also to be used as a training tool.
Since the cameras were rolled out we’ve actually had a couple minor situations resolved where the body camera footage has negated the complaint.
We created our body camera policy by taking a look at good policies from other departments, and I just tweaked a few things to fit it to us. Pretty much everybody is choosing their own body camera system – but Reveal is right down the middle with features versus cost.
It’s been pretty good working with Reveal; any problems we’ve had have been ironed out pretty quickly. We’re actually looking to get a couple more cameras.”