As video and audio recording become the norm in law enforcement interviewing, it’s important to consider best practices when setting up both your interview space and monitoring room. Lighting, ambient noise, and location are just a few things to take into consideration. Before hitting record, here are some ideas on how to get the best from your set up.
Lighting is crucial for cameras to provide a reliable image. In fact, it may be helpful to have a second light installed in the overhead for better coverage. Note, a window with sunlight coming in can close the iris of the camera, obscuring the subject. We recommend using a window covering to soften the light that comes through.
The best interview room has carpet and drop-tile ceiling to reduce noise from bouncing around the room. The noise absorbs into the carpet and the fiberboard material rather than echoing on drywall and tile. Is your room rectangular? Perfect. Square rooms tend to cause noise to bounce from wall to wall. If you can’t change the room, try adding acoustic paneling to the walls to absorb extra noise and to help prevent echoing.
Two cameras placed per interview room means your recording will include both a scene-view and a face-view. Install your overhead camera (scene-view) between 6.5 and 8 feet (200 cm to 245 cm) from the floor, near the ceiling in the same way a security system motion detector would be installed. The camera view should include as much of the room as possible including the interviewer, interviewee, and door. Be sure not to mount the camera where the view will be blocked when the door is open. Install your face-view camera about 4 to 4.5 feet (122 cm to 137 cm) from the floor, directly across from where your interviewee will sit. This should ensure a good face-view of the subject, allowing you to get close-ups of facial expressions.
This is the most important thing to consider when setting up your interview room. Good audio is key to any interview. Your microphone should be mounted on the ceiling, either in the middle of the room or over the location of the subject and the interviewer. If possible, avoid placing the microphone near HVAC vents. This will prevent your audio recording from being distorted. Again, Sound dampening/absorption/deadening panels can help improve sound quality.
Having extra furniture or items on the wall can increase your video file size, making it harder to export and store. Remove unnecessary photos, wallpaper, mirrors or busy furniture from the room. Also, when installing soundproofing material, avoid eggshell products that are sparkly or have a lot of extra movement. Eliminating these simple objects from your recording will reduce the file size allowing for more storage space.
Create a few trial recordings with people talking in the room. You can determine your camera and microphone placement works and adjust if needed. Getting it right can be tricky, but taking the time to do so will go a long way in obtaining the perfect recording.
Just as important as the interview room, it’s essential to ensure your monitoring room is designed to set you up for success.
The Monitoring Room where the CaseCracker unit is located should be within 1000 feet of the interview room(s). A desk at comfortable typing height should be provided, with a clear work surface at least 3’ wide by 2’ deep. Within 3’ of this work surface, there must be space (either on the floor, a shelf, or on the work surface itself) for the computer chassis. The chassis should be off the floor to prevent kicking, or drinks spilling into the unit.
Cables need to be secured to prevent kicking, being stepped on, rolled over, etc. Try using rubber duct cord covers, micro conduit, raceways, cable channels, etc. Be sure to follow all local fire codes and ensure plenum-rated cables are used if installing in plenum spaces.
The viewing monitor should not be positioned in direct sunlight, both to protect the monitor and to allow for unencumbered viewing.
CaseCracker needs to be in a quiet location so officers can hear suspects who mumble or are difficult to understand. Additionally, privacy is important so officers can review sensitive or high-profile interviews.
Have an interview room you’re setting up? We would love to learn more about your interview recording needs. In the meantime, check out CaseCracker interview recording solutions.