Think about that for a moment.
As conversations in the media revolve around body worn cameras, and police agencies try to budget for not only the cameras but also the storage, private citizens and businesses are generating digital multimedia evidence (digital CCTV systems, mobile devices, on-line sources, and etc.) at a rate of almost 10:1 vs. BWC files. Yes, for every file generated by a body worn camera, roughly 10 digital CCTV files are being generated, retrieved, processed, and stored.
Agencies are investing lots of money around BWC. What about the retrieval, processing, analysis, and storage of digital multimedia evidence? If it accounts for 10x the amount of evidence files, shouldn't it at least get the same funding level as BWC? Sadly, it doesn't.
In my years in LE, I was able to find some very creative ways to kit out my lab. There's money (resources) in a lot of places. You not only have to know where to look, you have to know how to convince the people controlling those funds of the need to share it with you.
Here's some of the places I've found funding over the years:
- Asset forfeiture funds. Some of these types of funds require that the request be tied to a specific activity, i.e. narcotics, human trafficking, gangs, etc. Because there's no limit to the types and sources of video that can be converted / processed / analyzed with the software, finding a type of case to tie it's funding request to is usually not a problem.
- Business license fees. In cities with as few as 100,000 population, a small increase in the business license fees can go to fund the purchase of equipment and training. Most readers will recall the time spent at a business location downloading video from their CCTV system, when the owner doesn't know how to download the video themselves (or doesn't want to help). Municipalities can justify the increased fees to cover the cost of services provided. As an example, the Yellowpages has listings for over 7500 businesses in small Scottsdale, Az. Raising the basic business license fee from $50 to $55 could raise enough revenue to fully fund the cost of equipping each Scottsdale police facility with multiple copies of our tools as well as putting DVRConv and FIVE in police vehicles with MDCs. All this from a $5 increase; plus a surplus to handle license renewals, training, and growth.
- Alarm license fees. Many cities have alarm license fees. See above for the scenario involved in simply adding an additional $5 to cover a CCTV system installed at the facility.
- Fines / Fees. Fines are generally levied for misdemeanor / felony offenses. Where does that money go? How much does it cost to investigate / process / try the case? Many municipalities have added additional fines / fees to cover the costs of the investigation. As an example, the City of Los Angeles adds a fee of roughly $25 per breathalyzer test to fund equipment, maintenance, training, and etc around this activity. Again, an addition $5-25 per case can easily fund the purchase, annual licensing, and training to support your agency's lab functions.
- Public / Private Partnerships. Often times, agencies have booster clubs or foundations which sponsor the purchase of needed equipment and/or services when the normal budget rules and timing must be side-stepped. The LA Police Foundation is one such example. Insurance Companies have funds for crime prevention / investigation support. Local church or community support groups can often help as well.
- Non-Profits. It seems that just about every type of criminal activity has an LE non-profit group to support investigators. Groups such as NAORCA, ICAC, NCIRC, IHIA, and so forth, exist to provide support. If the group does not have a funding or granting function, often the staff there can provide a list of places that support investigations around their area of interest.
You asked for a stand-alone conversion tool. We delivered. DVRConv (Axon Convert) breaks out the conversion process into a separate tool that can be deployed at a Kiosk, in an MDC, or on a PC by folks with minimal training. It can be networked. It can work on multiple folders full of dissimilar file types and maintain the folder/case integrity.
Finally, supervisors of most agencies have a purchase card that can be used in an emergency. Unfortunately, sometimes that emergency involves a major crime. The supervisor can, for example, present the argument that purchasing DVRConvert will assure that the thousands of dissimilar files can be converted by support staff in hours, vs. the days/weeks it would take for specialists to seek out individual players/codecs and manually convert each file type. Would you rather have it sooner or much later? The faster the pictures/video gets in the hands of investigators, the faster the crimes can be solved and public order restored.
Thus it's all about resourcefulness. When agencies switched from Baretta to Glock, they didn't leave out the magazines, training, and armory support. They found the money to get the transition accomplished correctly. Processing digital multimedia evidence should be no different.
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