EXCLUSIVE: Body worn cameras – the whole story

December 15, 2022

Video data, particularly captured on body worn cameras, is most effective with co-operation between private security firms and public safety agencies, says tech innovator AXON

Two of today’s most pressing safety concerns are the ability for law enforcement and private security to quickly de-escalate situations so they do not turn violent, and the ability to accurately document situations that do escalate to provide transparency and dispel or verify any claims.

The current environment globally means organisations and professionals responsible for safety and public order face a tougher job that is under more scrutiny than ever before.

Escalated situations and the results that often come from them, can have lasting effects on organizations and individuals.

This means that proactive safety and security measures along with, public safety agencies and private security companies working together effectively are more important than ever.

Effective collaboration between law enforcements and security leads to safer communities with lower incident rates, and the ability to prosecute crimes more successfully and quickly.

Video data is an essential tool to provide safety and transparency to the public. CCTV, body-worn cameras (BWC), and cell phone video have become the most common method or preventing and prosecuting crime.

Video provides the obvious advantage of indisputable evidence that brings clarity to events, but as importantly it allows safety professionals to better understand how to prevent critical events from occurring in the first place.

With the proliferation of video data and the sources it comes from, the ability to easily share and combine data across agencies and organizations is becoming increasingly important.

When incidents captured by security become evidence, they need to be shared securely, quickly and efficiently with law enforcement or other agencies.

Streamlined management and sharing of data, in a way that provides a reliable chain of custody, is paramount.

New technologies are making it easier than ever for this huge amount of video data to be shared and analysed to drive better outcomes and smarter safety and security practices.

Connected Safety Technology In Action
Often, incidents that occur in public settings such as apartment complexes, retail areas or sports venue are first encountered by security officers. In these cases, a first person POV is critical in supplementing CCTV footage to accurately tell the complete story.

If an incident becomes a chargeable offence, the body cam footage from security officers can now easily be combined with fixed camera footage to provide a complete and accurate accounting that can be easily shared with law enforcement and prosecution as needed.

Imagine a stadium event with a typical CCTV deployment. Local law enforcement patrolling the stadium is wearing body-worn cameras and the ballpark has also equipped security staff with body-worn cameras.

A fight breaks out that leads to serious injury of an attendee and a lawsuit against the police department and venue owner is filed.

It is an extreme case, but one that is not rare. Being able to combine CCTV, BWC, and cell phone footage from the public is the most reliable way to address claims and lawsuits.

A real-world scenario
Axon partnered with the Minneapolis Downtown Security Executives Group (DSEG) comprised of Minneapolis based private-sector security leaders, the Mpls Downtown Improvement District (DID), the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office.

The goal was to create a Proof of Concept (PoC) that encouraged adoption of private-sector BWCs while leveraging the power of Evidence.com, where 80% of United States law enforcement agencies already operate, to streamline the Incident-to-Evidence workflow between the private-sector, law enforcement and the City Attorney’s Office to improve the ability to investigate and charge crimes effectively while maintaining chain of custody.

Axon Body 3 cameras were selected since they were already proven with law enforcement agencies and have been identified as a critical tool for private security personnel to document evidence that captures an incident in first person point-of-view (POV) that translates to enhancing the ability to proactively de-escalate and/or to capture an incident with indisputable evidence.

The identified participants of the PoC that are deploying Axon solutions includes two major league sports facilities, a national retailer, a large healthcare provider, a municipal parking provider with fifteen parking ramps and five commercial real estate properties ranging in size from 500,000-1m+ square footage.

Initial private sector cases that have been submitted through Evidence.com have received positive feedback from law enforcement investigators, citing the reduction of time and resources required to request and compile the evidence.

Additional benefits also include chain of custody compliance and the ability to transfer case evidence to the City Attorney’s Office for prosecution when applicable.

The next steps for the PoC is to formalise the private-sector to law enforcement Incident-to-Evidence workflow, provide training by the City Attorney and law enforcement investigators on how to properly document and build cases for prosecution using evidence.com. and to expand participation in evidence.com and BWC to other private security clients or providers.

Shane Zahn, Director of Safety Initiatives with DID states: “I see a future where adoption of private-sector BWCs and evidence.com can help the downtown Minneapolis businesses to create safer and more transparent communities”.

The Axon story
The Axon story began in September of 1993 when TASER International was founded by CEO Rick Smith with his brother Tom Smith.

They consulted with Jack Cover, former NASA scientist and inventor of the original TASER conducted energy weapons of the 1970s.

Rick was inspired to start the company after losing two high school football teammates who were shot and killed in a road rage incident.

This experience led him to seek new technologies that would enable people to protect themselves without deploying lethal force in hopes of creating a bullet-less world.

On April 5, 2017, TASER International re-branded to Axon. Based on TASER International’s evolution as a business over the last 24 years, as well as the continuously evolving needs of law enforcement, it’s clear that the police agency of the 21st century demands a holistic, integrated approach to police technology.

A company statement says: “Axon represents the entire network of devices, applications, and people that is revolutionizing public safety around the world. Our mission is to protect life.

“Our technologies give law enforcement the confidence, focus, and time they need to keep their communities safe. Our connected body cameras and evidence management cloud allow police officers to work effectively and transparently, and our TASER conducted
energy weapons protect life without taking it.”

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