Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Can video be trusted as evidence - another viewpoint

The Hunter Systems Group blog takes a swipe at Grant Fredericks' article in Evidence Magazine saying, "Putting aside the author's obvious aim to put his business in a better light, the question he poses is still a valid one - can video evidence be trusted?"

So, can video be trusted as evidence?

The author goes on to say, "The author's [Fredericks] anecdotes that seem to increase the need for specialized video analysts are inconsistent with current technology available to first responders. CCTV and time lapse photography are no longer the only tools that are available to law enforcement personnel investigating crimes, or perhaps even while those crimes are occurring. Technology has progressed to the point that police officers may obtain video and audio evidence that may not be tampered with or destroyed, includes GPS information stamp and a time and date stamp while the evidence is being collected.

Analyzing video evidence is made much easier if judges and juries may review this type of evidence knowing that the evidence can't be lost or altered. Truly seeing is believing. There would be no need for experts in forensic video analysis with widespread use of this new technology. And the answer to the question posed above, while it remains just a piece of the puzzle, would be yes, video evidence may be trusted."

The blog's author concludes the piece with a sales pitch for Hunter's body worn video product as proof that "video can be trusted."

While I'm all for capitalism, I think that the sales pitch was missing Grant's point just a wee bit. Will Hunter's product be available to every "Mom and Pop" liquor store? No. Will the technology in Hunter's product be featured in the $400 4 camera systems sold by Costco and Sams Clubs? No. Will the people that buy the $400 Costco systems care about the technology that they are not getting at that price point? No again. Not when it would easily triple the sales price.

Until such time as the technology described in the Hunter blog is in every DVR sold, there will still be a need for specialists to correctly process and interpret video evidence. There is so much that can go wrong when video is not handled correctly. Innocent folks face jail time and the crooks will remain at large. That's hardly an optimal situation.


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