A Conversation on Video Surveillance

VideoSurveillance.com, a leading authority and provider of custom security camera systems, recently interviewed Officer.com’s Editor-in-Chief Frank Borelli, a retired police lieutenant with 30 years of law enforcement experience, on the subject of...

VideoSurveillance.com:  Have there been instances where the suspect tries to damage the camera?

Borelli:  Not that I’m aware of, because they’re usually mounted in such a way where the suspect can’t get to it. 

VideoSurveillance.com: Do a large portion of police departments have video surveillance cameras or does it really just depend on each department’s budget? 

Borelli:  Well, there are over 40,000 police departments in America and the large majority of them have 50 police officers or less.  So outside of the really big police departments, many small police departments don’t have the budget for a $3,000 camera system.

VideoSurveillance.com:  How is the quality of the video?

Borelli:  You’ve got some video that is black and white and other times you have video that is HD quality that you can play on your 72” TV and it would look just fine.  It really just depends on the quality of the video capture, the camera itself and the manufacturer. 

VideoSurveillance.com:  Would you agree that police car video surveillance does more good than harm? 

Borelli:  I think they can do a phenomenal amount of good, but we have to remember the human side of it.  You may have administrators who use it to pick apart what officers do during their entire shift, so if you go that route the amount of harm they can do to the actual officer is huge.  But when you look at the evidentiary value and what they can do in court and how they support law enforcement, they do a lot of good. I think on a balance scale, the good outweighs the bad but there is a significant cost attached to it.  It can be a problem when just small bits of video are analyzed versus the entire video of the incident.  That’s where the misinterpretation can occur. 

VideoSurveillance.com:  What are your thoughts on video surveillance in retail storefronts – would you recommend retailers invest in security cameras?

Borelli:  I think they’re fantastic and I’ll tell you why – it’s because the stores are all insured (in my experience).  And having video helps convince the insurance companies to pay off on any stolen or damaged merchandise.  If you put a video surveillance system in a commercial entity, you can have reduced insurance premiums, faster reimbursements, and a wonderful insurance adjustment tool to help insurance investigators analyze the crime so you will get your money back faster.  I remember a robbery that occurred and when the suspect was running out the door of the establishment he ran into a shelf that was full of glass bottles, knocking several off.  As part of the settlement for the loss, the insurance company reimbursed the owner for all the broken bottles but only because it was caught on video.   Retail owners are told to stand back and not get in the way, because insurance companies will help cover the losses if a crime is caught on camera and examined by insurance investigators.   

We thank retired police lieutenant Frank Borelli for taking the time to speak with VideoSurveillance.com on security camera systems. His knowledge and experience help shed light on police and retail surveillance.  

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