Police officers beginning to use hand deployed cameras in high risk situations

Posted on Oct 12, 2014

There's been plenty of talk about officers wearing cameras as part of their uniforms, with some large police departments realizing good results from the use of such devices. Another type of camera, one thrown into position by the officers using it, is starting to attract attention as well. Much different than the everyday, routine nature of wearable cameras, the robotic camera thrown into place by officers is intended for high-risk situations. Field applications include everything from use by SWAT teams when facing dense, urban terrain and to help survey the area when conducting a search in large buildings where visibility is limited.

A force multiplier

Trade magazine Computer World highlighted the use of one type of remote thrown camera, by the Eden Prairie, Minnesota Police Department. The department uses the thrown camera to increase situational awareness in a variety of situations, including regular deployments with the SWAT team. Sgt. Carter Staaf, the team's spokesperson, called the device a "force multiplier." The camera is able to be deployed and controlled remotely, allowing it to look around corners and into doorways as well as enter closed structures like apartment complexes and abandoned buildings. With this pair of eyes ahead of them and controlled by an officer in a secure position, the Eden Prairie SWAT team has the ability to scope out a situation and plan their approach before alerting anyone to their presence.

Versatile and responsive

Minnesota CBS affiliate WCCO said that the camera has been used in a variety of applications so far, including a shots fired call inside an apartment building. The durability of the camera means it can be dropped from a height of three stories, while its relatively small size means it can be tossed as far as 120 feet. Once placed in the initial position, it can operate for one hour based on battery life. The Eden Prairie police are using the robot in a variety of applications, including visual bomb detection and other efforts.

Having new, effective technology on hand reduces the risk of harm to officers and makes police departments more versatile as a whole. NC4 Street Smart allows officers to immediately add and update information about recent incidents through their in-cruiser computers instead of waiting to file a report. The interactive map used to track the location of incidents helps make officers more aware of situations as they happen, instead of hours or days later.

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