In a perfect world with unlimited resources, every police-citizen encounter would be recorded by the officer's patrol car and a body mounted camera during an arrest for DUI . This way, there would be minimal room for dispute regarding the defendant's or the officer's conduct, words spoken and appearance during the recorded event.
How Widespread Are Patrol Video Cameras?
Very. The cost to equip patrol cars is coming down as technology becomes cheaper, so more agencies are spending the money for the cameras. Just ten years ago, it was very hit or miss if the officer would even have a VHS recorder, whether it worked or whether the actual incident could be found. Now, there is a very good chance that the police-citizen encounter was captured by a law enforcement video camera.
How Do Patrol Video Cameras Work?
Generally, the patrol car’s video camera is a lot like a home DVR or TiVo. It is constantly running and recording, but not necessarily saving. However, once the officer turns on the car’s blue lights, the video auto rewinds, usually a minute, and begins recording the event.
Some law enforcement officers like Department of Natural Resources Rangers on boats, motorcycle officers and foot patrol officer have portable video cameras on their chests. Some agencies, although very few, even have video cameras mounted on glasses and hat visors.
Why Do Law Enforcement Agencies Want Cameras?
There are three main reasons law enforcement agencies want cameras.
It makes the prosecution of a charge much more efficient. Instead of relying on the officer’s testimony at a trial about how a defendant was intoxicated, a defense lawyer and the defendant can review the video to determine whether the State can potentially prove the case against the defendant. If a defendant thought they looked sober, a video showing otherwise can be a sobering moment in the case.
Video cameras help verify or disprove allegations of misconduct. When an allegation of police misconduct is made, the allegations are taken very seriously. The super vast majority of law enforcement officers act professionally and legally. But nobody likes it when an officer violates a person’s rights or abuses an arrestee. Likewise, nobody likes when a criminal, not only commits a crime, but decides to get back at the arresting officer by lying about what happened solely to get the officer in trouble. Officer safety is enhanced with video technology. If a suspect believes they are being recorded, they will likely be better behaved.
The other main reason is Insurance. Law enforcement agencies want to keep insurance rates down so they can spend funds on law enforcement, not on insurance premiums. Insurance companies rate police agencies on exposure. If a law enforcement agency can disprove allegations via a video, there should be fewer lawsuits and less money the insurance company might have to payout.
Why Does a Defendant Want a Video?
The main reasons a defendant would want a video of the incident would be to prove their version of events. For a skilled DUI Lawyer, a video can be a very important tool in performing a detailed analysis of the events during the arrest, and to help identify any potential arguments in the defendant’s favor.
In modern times, video cameras are becoming common place. It seems like everyone has a video camera in their phone and is ready to use it. Therefore, it is not surprising that law enforcement reflects societal trends.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Hall County, GA please call: 770-783-5296. Attorney Anne Bishop welcomes any questions about Criminal Defense and Georgia DUI laws.
About the attorney: Anne Bishop is a Georgia Lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWI, Marijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters. The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Jackson County (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.