The benefits of body cameras with front-facing screens
Front-facing screens are a unique feature of Reveal body-worn cameras. With scores of body camera models on the market that record covertly, our cameras are designed to calm situations before they escalate.
The front facing screen makes an amazing difference [...] because it is clear that there is a camera recording, they are far less likely to make things up or become aggressive because they know that we are recording their conduct and everything that is said.Ramin Amiri, City Protection Group (CPG)
A front-facing screen is an LCD display on the front of the camera (the same side as the camera lens) that allows either real-time or playback of the footage recorded. The screen is typically turned on by default and can be turned off for those situations requiring no illumination - a so-called ‘stealth mode'.
Because the person recorded is able to clearly see themselves on the screen it adds transparency to the situation. This brings a new dynamic to the interaction between the public and law enforcement that is also flexible - the screen and LEDs can be turned off for those situations requiring no illumination capability. Among the benefits of this feature are:
- Increased Transparency - The front-facing screen displays footage in real-time as it is being recorded. To the person being recorded, this demonstrates that a police department is open and transparent in its conduct.
- Building Community Trust - By allowing the public to see what is being recorded it creates an open relationship that helps to build trust. People see it, understand that they are being recorded, and moderate their behaviour accordingly.
- De-escalating violence and aggression - Front-facing screens can de-escalate and prevent aggression towards officers. An awareness that a camera is rolling generally improves the conduct of both sides of an encounter. When tensions escalate, the body camera acts as an ‘independent witness’ providing the truth and holding individuals to account. Body cameras with front-facing displays, therefore, provide a backup for the officer in contentious situations by being an unbiased ‘independent witness’. In fact, a study by the Rialto Police Department in California found a 50% decrease in the use of force incidents as a result of body cameras.
- Reducing the use of force incidents - an awareness that a camera is rolling generally improves the conduct of both sides of an encounter. Where there is a breakdown in conduct, an independent account of the incident can provide the truth and hold individuals to account.
- Displaying the officer's point-of-view - While all body cameras can record evidence, body cameras with front-facing displays record the Officers point of view and improves officer safety while de-escalating confrontational situations. This is particularly useful in officer training and real-time in-field scenarios where quick feedback is required.
- Allowing Quick and Easy Playback - with the front-facing screen it is easy to playback and review footage in the field. During playback, the user can rewind and fast-forward footage to get detailed feedback on an incident.
Active Displays vs. Stealth Mode
The screen doesn’t need to be activated at all times. In some cases, it is turned off and left recording in ‘stealth mode. With the D-Series body camera, the stealth mode displays no image on the screen and the red light that usually shows up when the screen is active is not lit. The camera in effect appears off as it would for any other body camera left recording without a front-facing screen. Essentially this creates a swiss army knife of body cameras - a multi-purpose tool that can be used in different settings. As officer Officer Joshua Jones of Pasadena PD puts it:
Some officers like the front facing screen, while some prefer the privacy screen. When people see themselves being recorded, they can check their behavior because they know they’re being recorded, or they can become more agitated because they don’t want to be recorded. But I would certainly urge other departments to test it out for themselves and form their own conclusions.
How Front Facing Screens Benefit Users Globally
The benefits of Reveal's D-Series, with its signature front body cameras, are perhaps best illustrated by the people that use them. Over the years we have had feedback from a number of customers who have each found their own unique benefits of the front-facing screen:
The devices also had a positive impact on behaviour. We found once someone was aware they were being recorded, their behaviour changed – in some cases, it helped diffuse aggressive situations. Stuart Ayres, Australia’s Police Minister
It stops situations getting to the point of violence. Most of the time people notice it [the Reveal body camera] without me having to say anything. Sometimes just by pointing at the display, they can see themselves and they realise they are being filmed [and] they just leave once they see the camera. It’s better than having a colleague next to you. Othello, Security Manager at the Hard Rock Café, Sweden
This time, with the camera, he was looking at himself on the front-facing screen for the whole incident, instead of looking at me, his focus was on the camera. I could see in his eyes that he was contemplating escaping and figuring out how to get away, but because he was being filmed he knew it wouldn’t make a difference. Ramin Amiri, City Protection Group (CPG), Sweden
The front-facing screen on the body cameras is very useful. It reflects the attitude and captures the behaviour of the person being subjected to the different drug tests. With the front-facing screen, the person you're interacting with looks at the camera, and they change their attitude immediately. Traffic Police Officer, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
Note: Choosing the right body camera for your organisation is never an easy task, but several guidelines help to simplify the process. The whitepaper below will help you make strategic decisions and garner the correct information and team to action your body-worn camera programme.