Panasonic's Digital Video Solutions to Be Used by San Carlos P.D.

SECAUCUS, N.J. - Panasonic Computer Solutions Company today announced that San Carlos (California) Police Department will standardize on the Panasonic Toughbook Arbitrator digital recording system for video capture, storage and transfer in support of improved incident documentation, evidence management and streamlined operations.

The Toughbook Arbitrator system is a solid-state video recording system engineered specifically for the demanding environment of a police patrol car. Conventional recording devices, such as tape drives, hard disk drives, and optical disc drives, use mechanical-drive recording systems that are vulnerable to shock, vibration, high and low temperatures and humidity. Because the Toughbook Arbitrator system employs a solid-state memory card with no moving parts, it ensures a high level of reliability. The system, which features simple connectivity with PCs and high-speed, high-capacity data transfer rates, is differentiated by its ability to record in both wide angle and low-light situations.

The San Carlos Police Department serves a community of approximately 30,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area, 23 miles south of San Francisco. The department of thirty-six officers will initially deploy 8 Toughbook Arbitrator digital video systems. A Toughbook rugged notebook customer since 2004, San Carlos PD cites the proven reliability of its Toughbook computers as a major factor in its selection of the Arbitrator system. The expected ease of integration was also a key driver in choosing Panasonic to support its digital video initiative.

According to San Carlos Police Department Chief Gregory Rothaus, the move to digital video will eliminate problems with their existing VHS systems, including system failure due to overheating, as well as the challenges associated with the storage and retrieval of information stored on tape.

"We have been a believer in the use of audio and video in the field for quite some time," said Chief Rothaus. "This technology from Panasonic enables us to manage information in a way that is light years ahead of what we have been doing in the past."

"Individual storage of tape medium is time consuming--both in removing tapes from each car and in managing requests for evidence and information," added Rothaus. "With audio and video stored digitally and available on a single server, we will achieve a much simpler solution that will also improve the integrity and security of evidence."

To make its selection, a committee reviewed several technology options. Toughbook products were distinguished by their durability, portability and by the ease of use provided by the touch screen and simple graphical user interface. The committee also sought feedback from existing Panasonic Toughbook customers in law enforcement and public safety. The overwhelmingly positive responses made the decision clear.

According to Chief Rothaus, "We wanted to be sure that the system we adopted would be easy for our officers to use. We believe we have achieved all of our goals with Panasonic."

The project was partially funded by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), an agency that includes risk management support for police as one of its core functions. ABAG believes video cameras are effective in reducing the frequency and severity of police claims. Since ABAG started funding in-car video technology, agencies using cameras have experienced a reduction in claims of excessive force, wrongful arrest and violation of civil rights.

"It has long been held that a picture is worth a thousand words. When video was first introduced in patrol cars, many agencies embraced it as a means to improve evidence-gathering and reporting while reducing the need for officers to spend time in court as witnesses in criminal proceedings or in costly civil suits," said Greg Peratt, Director, Public Safety, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company. "Now with the advent of solid state digital video systems such as the Arbitrator, agencies like the San Carlos Police Department have an even more reliable means to gather, store and retrieve data, keeping resources focused on their number one mission: making the streets safer."