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Plum patrol cars get new cameras with added capabilities

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 3:33 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Plum Police Officer Michael Abraham demonstrates the new cameras mounted to the rear-view mirror that not only record video and audio, but have GPS capabilities.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Plum Police Officer Michael Abraham demonstrates the new cameras mounted to the rear-view mirror that not only record video and audio, but have GPS capabilities.

Video-camera technology in Plum's patrol vehicles is not a new concept.

The new cameras recently installed in the vehicles, though, have many new capabilities.

The borough is spending $86,000 over four years to purchase 15 video cameras from Patrol Witness, a company based in Alpharetta, Ga.

Plum police Chief Frank Monaco said the new cameras, mounted in the front of the vehicle, with the controls on the officer's rear-view mirror, have many new features, including audio.

Officers need consent before recording audio transmissions from prisoners or others they detain in their patrol cars.

Also, the cameras capture video footage from the patrol vehicle's back seat, as well as in front of the vehicle.

The previous system captured video only from in front of the vehicle.

The cameras also can zoom in on license plates.

And officers can mark locations that are captured in the system.

“If you have a pursuit, you can mark it if someone is throwing something out the window,” Monaco said.

Another new feature is a GPS unit that tracks a patrol car's location at all times.

The cameras in the police patrol cars can continue recording 30 seconds after they are turned off.

Officer Michael Abraham said the extended recording is helpful particularly in the cases of traffic stops and with those involving suspected drunken drivers.

“Obviously, the questions in court are probable-cause issues,” Abraham said.

“You can get good footage.”

Abraham said the GPS function would be helpful in the event a patrol car is stolen.

He also said rear-seat video is helpful for officers.

“Sometimes people do things like damage the inside of cars and say things that incriminate themselves and could help us later (in court),” Abraham said.

Abraham is impressed with the quality of the new cameras.

“They're a lot nicer than what we have,” Abraham said.

“It is a tool for us.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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