Palacios PD get digital cameras in cars
By Sarah Wells
Bay City Tribune

Published December 23, 2006
Palacios city council member received a demonstration of Palacios Police Department’s new digital camera system Monday night.

The camera system continuously records during an officer’s rounds to capture video of any violation without the officer having to activate it.

Palacios paid $35,000 to install the cameras and software into all six patrol cars last week, said City Manager Charles Winfield.

The officer can then push the record button and the system backtracks 30 seconds before the system is activated. The camera records the particular infraction or crime until the police officer turns it off.

“This system is really cool. This has been very effective in capturing what the officer sees, such as a person running a stop sign,” said City Manager Charles Winfield.

“This is another first for Palacios,” said Winfield.

The camera system also has a wireless feature so that the officer does not handle any tape or hard drive.

As soon as the patrol car comes in range of the main computer server, the video starts to download to that server.

“This makes the video virtually tamperproof,” said Winfield.

Global Positioning System (GPS) features are included in the equipment and can track the patrol car’s location, verify their speed and “mark” where a subject has thrown out any objects from a moving vehicle.

A back seat camera also records any captured subjects, radar readings and the officers’ microphones.

The old patrol car cameras recorded manually onto VHS tapes — costly to restock and sometimes with grainy images, said Winfield.

Tapes also needed to be stored for appropriate amounts of time to preserve evidence — the digital video stays on computers.

“The new digital system is just fantastic and we know it will handy in court to prove charges against lawbreakers,” said Winfield.

The City of Palacios also continues to update software at the police department and provide more law enforcement equipment, such as decimeters. Decimeters measure noise levels.

Palacios will work on developing a city noise ordinance to better control noise levels and the decimeters would give officers a subjective tool to enforce it, said Winfield.