Just months after the White House authorized millions of dollars in funding for body worn cameras for law enforcement, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America has designed a new body worn camera (BWC) with guidance from law enforcement officials from across the United States.
The new version of its Arbitrator BWC comes equipped with a 720p HD video resolution and 130o wide camera angle with digital image stabilization and low-light capabilities, allowing the wearer to clearly capture evidence in virtually any environment, day or night.
The rugged and water-resistant design of the camera allows it to remain reliable when exposed to dust, drops, humidity and other environmental conditions officers may encounter. Weighing only 4.6 ounces, the Arbitrator BWC’s lightweight design offers multiple mounting options to provide officers with a flexibility.
Cost has become a significant hurdle preventing the implementation of BWCs. A 2014 Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) publication revealed that in addition to the initial purchasing cost of the cameras, which can range from $120 to $2,000 per device, agencies must also pay for ongoing data storage, training, program management and camera maintenance.
Homeland Security Today recently reported that for one sheriff’s office in South Carolina, the cost of body-worn cameras for approximately 250 deputies was approximately $600,000 for the initial purchase and implementation of the cameras and approximately $600,000 each year thereafter in recurring expenses.
In response, Panasonic has attempted to create a scalable, flexible and cost-effective video management system for law enforcement. To do this, Panasonic integrated the Arbitrator BWC with Panasonic’s Unified Evidence Management System (UEMS), which allows agencies to manage all video evidence using a single system.
Furthermore, the integrated platform allows officers to manage all video evidence — including in-car, body-worn and fixed surveillance video—using a single platform. This enables agencies to significantly reduce time and costs related to offloading and managing data, as well as to reduce training, maintenance and IT support workload requirements.
“As one of the first companies to offer a body-worn camera for law enforcement in 2012, we were able to gather feedback from our customers and go back to the design board to create something completely new that would meet their needs better than any other solution available,” said Greg Peratt, vice president, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America.
Peratt said, “With their invaluable input and our long history of innovation developing cameras for broadcast and traditional video surveillance, we have built a body-worn camera that seamlessly integrates with our popular video evidence management platform providing public safety agencies with the industry’s most flexible and complete evidence capture solution available.”
From Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore, Maryland, use-of-force police encounters resulting in the unnecessary loss of life have sparked controversy over outfitting law enforcement with BWCs to increase transparency and ensure the protection of the police and public.
BWCs have been touted as a highly effective tool for evidence-gathering purposes, as well as increasing accountability and transparency. Law enforcement is not the only group utilizing these devices. Earlier this year, US Border Patrol agents began testing out BWC usage for land, air and maritime operations.
Homeland Security Today previously reported that a recent study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police revealed half of all complaints were retracted when video support was available. Further, the report notes that a vast majority of the public supports BWCs.
“These new wearable cameras have been well received, and almost immediately, they helped clear an officer during a complaint of excessive force. In light of recent complaints against law enforcement, they are invaluable to law enforcement and the public,” said Valdosta Chief of Police Brian Childress in a statement.
However, the technology has sparked significant concern over privacy and other issues. It remains to be seen whether these issues will impact the implementation of BWCs by the nation’s law enforcement and border patrol agencies.