A TiVo-style digital video system makes it easier for officers to record lawbreakers and avoid frivolous lawsuits while saving them valuable storage space, says the Associated Press. The Tyler, Tx., Police Department, 90 miles east of Dallas, outfitted its 60 patrol cars with systems that take a steady stream of video. “Now that I’ve got them on video, I figure, `Let’s go to court, I’d be happy to play them for you,’ ” said Tyler officer John Weavers. Tyler, population 83,000 people, is one of seven police departments using a digital video system from IBM and Coban Research and Technologies Inc., a firm near Houston. Yakima, Wash., was first, outfitting 35 marked patrol cars about a year ago.
Departments using the systems say digital is better than analog videotapes, saving money over the long term, more likely to catch criminals in the act, and doing a better job of protecting officers from frivolous lawsuits and citizens from unfair or abusive treatment. The systems cost $7,000 to $10,000 per car, about the same as traditional analog video systems. With analog, however, there’s the added expense of storing hundreds or thousands of videotapes. Tyler police said they expect to save about $50,000 a year with the new system. Information, from driver’s license data to satellite GPS coordinates can be tagged to the video, making it easy to search from officers’ desktop computers. Because it is searchable, police don’t have to wade through hours of videotape to find an incident.