New body worn camera auditing software platform emphasizes accuracy, efficiency and ease of use
Agencies implementing body worn camera auditing systems to limit their risk, reduce their liability exposure, and lower insurance costs
In jurisdictions large and small throughout the country, law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve are increasingly seeing the use of police officer body worn cameras as critical to enhancing transparency and accountability.
But there is a growing consensus within the academic and law enforcement communities that merely deploying the cameras without also implementing sound strategies to use the hours and hours of footage of police activity to provide better supervision, training and quality assurance greatly undercuts their vast potential to improve policing.
Dr. Eric Piza, Associate Professor with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York is involved in an ongoing study about how police agencies utilize body worn cameras. He says agencies that deploy body worn cameras but then fail to develop and implement measures to use the data cameras provide to actually improve police work and bolster public trust are selling the technology short.
“Far too often the public expects cameras to fix all the complex problems associated with policing,” said Dr. Piza. “But far too few departments have implemented regular and ongoing audit and review policies and instead only review video when something bad happens.”
Many departments, Dr. Piza believes, are missing opportunities to review footage as a means to improve performance and highlight both positive and negative interactions their officers have with the public.
In their public messaging, agencies tout body worn cameras as tools to enhance trust between a law enforcement agency and the community. But there are countless other benefits cameras can deliver. Notably, body worn cameras provide supervisors with an opportunity to evaluate officer interactions, good and bad.
But many supervisors have no means of tracking the body worn camera data unless audits are performed on a regular basis. One barrier to regular audits of body worn camera data is the lack of sufficient software that makes the process efficient and user-friendly. Another is time.
Retired Las Vegas Police Department captain Don Zehnder, a leading expert on body worn camera deployment and auditing, recognizes that the audit process needs to take in to account the fact that supervisors are increasingly being asked to do more with less and any tracking mechanism needs to be easy and seamless.
“The reporting mechanism for a supervisor to document what is seen should be simple to use, should be fairly quick to fill out…and if they can make it in electronic format that would be preferable, said Zehnder on a recent LE Tech Talks podcast. “We certainly don’t want to burden supervisors who today are burdened with so many tasks. We don’t want to add another layer of management bureaucracy on them. We want to make it as easy as possible.”
That’s where Frontline Public Safety Solutions enters the picture.
Frontline has developed brand new software to aid departments in auditing body worn camera usage and footage. The cloud-based software platform, QA Tracker for Body Worn Cameras and dash cameras, is helping police departments make sense of the mountainous data being collected.
The goal of QA Tracker is to afford all police departments a way to evaluate their video footage from body worn cameras and dash camera footage. The audits performed by the front line supervisors can be entered into the software to accurately and efficiently track and evaluate their officers’ performance on metrics that agencies choose. The software can also flag deficiencies from officers and an email to supervisors to identify training opportunities.
Frontline has implemented similar software platforms to help public safety agencies track and monitor training. Frontline has also assisted communications centers with their efforts in tracking quality assurance.
In less than a year the Frontline software has been able to help nearly 100 communication centers migrate from recording data with pen and paper or on Excel to connecting them to a powerful platform to not only track their quality assurance evaluations but to give them real analytics.
“Efficiency and ease of use is the name of the game today,” said Ben Laird, a retired police detective, software developer and founder of Frontline Public Safety Solutions. “With supervisors always being asked to do more to perform oversight, guidance and training, we made it our mission to develop a tool that is easy to learn and simple to use. We know that auditing software that creates more work instead of less will fall short. That’s why our laser focus is on making the tool as user friendly and efficient as it can be.”
The Frontline tracking software which is just coming to market should also be of interest to those tasked with managing and agency’s risk, lowering its insurance premiums and limiting liability from lawsuits. Laird says that the software has the potential for agencies to lower the cost of their insurance premiums and can also serve as one deterrent to costly liability payouts.
Ethan Salsinger is a regional director for Gallagher, a global leader in insurance, risk management and consulting Public Sector Practice. As part of his work in Gallagher’s public sector practice, he recommends tactics and strategies local government agencies can use to limit their exposure.
“Implementing any advanced software that powers police body cams can bolster your risk management strategy and show insurance carriers that you’re proactively addressing law enforcement transparency,” said Salsinger. “Taking proactive steps like constantly auditing your police force’s dash and body cams can positively affect your rates and premium. In a marketplace where excess liability and law enforcement liability are more volatile than ever, this is an extremely effective risk management tool.
Laird said he and his partners are closely monitoring the growing use of body cameras and expects that as the technology matures, so will the law enforcement community’s ability to maximize its potential. He expects national usage and auditing standards to become part of the ongoing national conversation about police reform.
“A body worn camera that functions without a robust auditing and compliance function is, after all, just a camera. While no national standard yet exists, chances are that with the rapid increase in body worn camera usage, one is on the way,” explained Laird. “At Frontline, we have the software ready and waiting to help manage and track the results. The analytics we’ve built into our product will help police departments learn from the data so they can get the intended results from their cameras and dash cams.
For more information about Frontline’s QA Tracker for Body Worn Cameras, visit www.bwcaudits.com To learn more about how the auditing software can improve safety and minimize risk cost, contact President Ben Laird at 630-613-9763 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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