Some agencies in our county are moving toward digital recording in DWI cases - thus eliminating the VHS tape. I can foresee the day when it will be purely digital as opposed to DVD or CD. Anyone had experience with this conversion, and if so, how are you managing the recordings and distributing them to defense counsel? Any possibility of putting them on site to be accessed by counsel?
Last year SAPD tried digital cameras in a few DWI task force units. The experiment didn't work and a some DWI cases have videos with no recordings on them. Makes defense attorneys salivate. But it should be done and would be great. Quality you would imagine would be better than vcr's.
We haven't used digital in DWis yet but we do use it in other cases. Interviews are recorded on either a digital video recorder or by digital pocket audio recorders. Most of our Investigators are using digital cameras. We are ussually able to put all of our photos, statements and videos on a disc or two and send them to the defense attorney. It is faster for us and the defense attorney's seem to like it when we are able to do that way. Unfortunately, not all of the agencies nor even all of the officers in the same agency use digital.
Part of the problem with digital formats is there are so many of them. Not every digital camera records the events in the same format. So, when you go to make a copy or watch the event on a computer or DVD recorder, it doesn't always work. With VHS, at least everyone has the same tape player (Beta players being a part of the fossil age). Until digital gurus agree on a common format, it would be difficult to advise departments to go digital.
[This message was edited by John Bradley on 10-13-05 at .]
A few months ago, we had to chose this new option because all of our VHS to VHS recorders began to die. This type of equipment is not made anymore so we had no choice (short of rigging 2 VCR's together, but a combo is much easier).
Check out Go Video brand (there are other brands, but we've had real good luck with these). They now make a machine that copies onto +/- DVD's. The machines cost between $300-400. The DVD's are cheaper if bought in bulk.
We also bought a DVD/CD duplicator. Advantage with this machine is that it copies pretty quickly and not real time. So any evidence that is already on DVD (dept store video, school cameras, 1 police agency Intox room, etc.), can be copied to DVD in less than 5 minutes. Or, if you convert VHS to DVD for defense, we can quickly make our prosecutor a copy also on DVD which sometimes shows better in court.
Feel free to call me if you have more questions at (512)943-1111. FYI - Lubbock is way ahead in this area. Investigator Todd Smith is your contact there.
John, you're absolutely right. The Child advocacy center in Denton records all of their child interviews on DVD. But, because our DVD-Rom's don't read the format, we can only watch the videos on the laptop (which has newer software). I've tried several times to import the correct drivers, with no success.
I'd prefer them to use video tapes, but they're not set up for it.
On the same topic, we have similar difficulties with surveillance videos that are multiplexed.
Thanks. I agree that different formats such as DVD's, Super 8, etc cause real problems. I'm more interested in bypassing these intermediate storage media and going to pure digitial that can be stored and shared on servers. Access would be web based. Intox rooms would be a logical starting point since there are no data transfer issues with mobile units. Am talking with the SO and larger agencies about feasibility.
We bought equipment to convert from VHS to DVD, which is a good first step. Problems we encountered: (1) takes a lot of time; we found that we just don't have time to convert every tape to DVD so we are selectively converting (2)quality of the converted DVD is not quite up to par when played on a computer; I want better quality to screen to a jury that I am getting from the conversions so far ... but it's good enough to provide a copy for the defense.
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