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A Silent Partner

The Patrol introduced a new silent partner in July 1993. Trooper Jeff Peterson was selected to test a mobile video system which is permanently mounted in the patrol car. The test unit was marketed by Skaggs Telecommunication Service, Inc. (STS) as the Visual Patrol TM In-Car Video Documentation System. It employs techniques that prevent tampering with videotaped information. The control unit and the videotape recorder are installed in the trunk. The camera mounts to the windshield and a monitor is mounted next to the trooper’s police radio. The unit utilizes standard 1/2 inch VHS video cassettes which can later be viewed on a VCR and television.

The entire system can be operated from the driver’s seat or by a hand-held remote control. A wireless microphone with audio interface provides excellent audio when the trooper is out of his patrol car, such as when talking to a violator. The camera is also activated as soon as the trooper activates his pursuit lights.

During the next two years, patrol cars throughout the state were equipped with mobile video systems. No longer could violators say, “It’s just your word against mine.” This equipment and the resulting videos also proved to be a good training medium. Knowing they are being recorded, troopers concentrate more on following correct procedures and refining “their roadside manners.” Seized drug money was used to purchase some of these mobile video recorders.