Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Part 2: Changes in Interview Room Recording Technology
Back in 2003, the expertise of one of our company’s founders, Howdy Pierce, was called upon to help improve the software used in a police car video recording device. He learned from the field patrol officers that legislation was already in the works to mandate the recording of custodial interviews and this little tidbit sparked an idea. When he returned to the home office, he immediately went to work on developing sophisticated, yet simple, interview room recording technology. Just a year later, Howdy and CaseCracker had a product they were excited to bring to market.
Yesterday’s Home-Brewed Interview Recording Systems
When we started speaking with potential customers, we were surprised to learn that many were already recording interviews involving serious crimes—such as homicide, sexual assault, and child abuse. We no longer had to spend time praising the virtues of video and audio recording, but could instead direct our energy toward listening to investigators’ complaints and frustrations with what we refer to as their “home-brewed” recording solutions. Their concerns with these systems fell into four categories: hardware, software, video, and audio.
The hardware used in these makeshift recording solutions was often cumbersome. Investigators complained about the bulky, complicated nature of camcorders on tripods. Placed in the center of the room, they were recording one moment but served as a potential weapon in the next. And because they were devised in-house, when the system broke, there was no one to call for repair.
There was also no real software available to support the overall operation of these systems, and certainly no training manual available for troubleshooting. All of that knowledge resided in the mind of the person who had cobbled it together. Investigators needed to focus their energy on solving crimes—not operating the complicated user interface associated with most DVRs.
As for video quality? It was minimal, as everything was recorded in standard definition and on tape drives that were difficult to access and store. Final output was often choppy, and the audio was rarely synced with the video. As for more covert camera options, many did not include built-in microphones and thus required the use of additional equipment which would cut out if someone shouted their confession or not fully pick up a mumbled one. And any seasoned investigator knows that “Goldilocks” conditions are rarely found in the interview room!
Today’s Advancements in Interview Recording
It’s no secret that over the last decade, technology has advanced at the speed of light. Law enforcement agencies have embraced emerging technologies in all areas of their work. Have you seen the inside of a patrol car lately? The dash calls to mind a futuristic spaceship! With this enthusiasm for new technology, it has also increased the demand for new functionality in interview recording, all of which CaseCracker has heard and responded to, including:
- The ability to stop and start recording with the touch of a button
- Covert assurance that recording is happening—without fail
- A user-friendly interface that even your grandmother could use
- High definition cameras hidden in the smallest of concealments
- Microphones with a wide dynamic range that are sensitive enough to pick up a child’s whisper on the opposite side of the room
- Search functionality allowing for immediate recall of a recording based on a single keyword
- Covert flagging and earmark functionality
- Auto-exporting to a secure cloud
Tomorrow’s Innovations—Previewed Today
What will tomorrow bring? One thing is for certain: as technology improves, the demand for cutting edge resources will only increase, and CaseCracker is always working on innovative solutions in anticipation of those needs. Our latest product release, CaseCracker Onyx, already enables an observer to sit at a PC in Virginia and watch a live recording in Afghanistan—a capability only limited by the amount of bandwidth available. Our engineers have proved the Owellian possible, in the best possible way—Big Brother can always be watching, if you want him to.