Dash-cams keep record

     Dashboard cameras can give law enforcement officers a good tool for recording criminal activity, or, as one woman discovered, a look at the life she almost lost, when a Greer, South Carolina, officer's dashcam recorded his successful attempt...


     To promote a department culture where inappropriate actions are not tolerated, the new director has openly voiced his positions on a number of issues such as lying and providing misleading information, and has indicated that those taking such actions will be dismissed.

     The department has had a sensitivity training program in place for approximately nine years. All troopers receive it when they first join the patrol, and it is part of the department's annual in-service training. The program is basically the same as the Florida Highway Patrol's training regimen and consists of a training video, as well as open discussions about racial sensitivity. All trooper trainees receive this training while undergoing patrol training, and all troopers, from colonel on down, undergo refresher courses every year during in-service training. South Carolina officials were granted permission to follow the Florida format.

Positive depictions, too

     "Though this is in no way a defense for anything that goes on above and beyond the call of duty, you have to keep in mind that there's a lot of stress with this job, and people handle it differently," Gaulden offers as an explanation to the negative officer interactions captured on video. "The goal has been and will continue to be treating all motorists in a uniform manner which does not condone troopers not following departmental policies and procedures. Each of the tapes that have been released to the media came from individual instances where troopers demonstrated questionable behavior. As a result of that behavior, each and every trooper on the tapes was disciplined in some manner."

     While the South Carolina Department of Public Safety deals with these incidents, other South Carolina agencies have commented on the fact that this technology typically presents an accurate and positive depiction of an officer's actions at a call.

     "The purpose of the camera is to catch the truth; it's there to show what really happened," says George Brothers, homeland security coordinator for Lexington County. "I think those incidents involving the Positive depictions, too

     "Though this is in no way a defense for anything that goes on above and beyond the call of duty, you have to keep in mind that there's a lot of stress with this job, and people handle it differently," Gaulden offers as an explanation to the negative officer interactions captured on video. "The goal has been and will continue to be treating all motorists in a uniform manner which does not condone troopers not following departmental policies and procedures. Each of the tapes that have been released to the media came from individual instances where troopers demonstrated questionable behavior. As a result of that behavior, each and every trooper on the tapes was disciplined in some manner."

     While the South Carolina Department of Public Safety deals with these incidents, other South Carolina agencies have commented on the fact that this technology typically presents an accurate and positive depiction of an officer's actions at a call.

     "The purpose of the camera is to catch the truth; it's there to show what really happened," says George Brothers, homeland security coordinator for Lexington County. "I think those incidents involving the conscious of what we're doing," says Brothers. "It can be easy to forget you're on camera. But if you're aware of what you should be doing, it doesn't matter. If you cannot control yourself, you are in the wrong line of work."

Protecting the department

     From law enforcement's perspective, having mobile video of every traffic stop offers a bit of risk management. Many mobile video systems are completely automatic, so that when the officer turns on the lights or activates his wireless microphone the camera starts rolling. Later, when the officer returns to the station, the evidence is automatically uploaded to a computer server and viewed instantly by a supervisor.

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