Recently I was asked by someone who was accused of a DUI in Lebanon: "What about the video from the cop car?"
I told him that generally speaking the video is great for the citizen accused. You would simply be amazed the number of times that police reports and testimonies differ from the recordings. The recordings are remarkably clear even at night time.
(Pictured above in the video is a video from a Kustom Signals Digital Eyewitness MVR System)
The videos from police vehicles is frequently referred to as a dash camera or a Mobile Video recorder (MVR) unit.
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture only records one finite event-one millisecond of time. Here, with the use of a dash camera or MVR unit, we have the benefit of the whole video sequence of what actually occurred as it occurred. Everyone including the Officers or Troopers benefit from this view which captures the facts rather than an opinion. Just as with the case with instant replay in sports, some avid sports fans may believe that the correct call with the game on the line is the most crucial item that requires review, but the video exists independent and separate from anyone’s desires or bias. The videotape does not have to remember. It does not have to separate out one specific factual circumstance from many similar ones. It does not become confused. It does not have an expressed opinion to justify. A videotape is not subject to the very human problem of viewpoint. It merely shows you what actually and truly happened.
As of 2005 the Pennsylvania State Police employ a MVR unit in all of its sedans. Specifically, it is Kustom Signals Digital Eyewitness MVR System.
The Pennsylvania State Police invested in dash cameras because we all want fairness and justice. They eliminate the danger of not only juries receiving unreliable evidence by eliminating loss of memory, exaggeration and mistakes by individual officers/Troopers, but also Judges during pretrial as well. They eliminate bias. They take away the risk that an officer/Trooper, even one who means well, will "see" what he expected to see or really “wants” to see. This is the well recognized psychological phenomenon of Contextual Bias.
The camera records and recounts. It has no agenda. Videotape gives to all the very best evidence. The camera does not exaggerate, lie or want to not lose. The videotape is unimpeachable in cases. It is indeed the best evidence. It is the most trusted evidence.
But if it is a perfect rendition of what occurred and is unimpeachable, does the Pennsylvania State Police want folks to know about it?
Shockingly, The McShane Firm, LLC had to litigate getting the policies and the retention times for the MVR units through appealing to the Office of Open Records to give us this these policies. You can read the decision and the Pennsylvania State Police’s decision to not honor our Right to Know Request.
All municipal police vehicles and all State police vehicles must be so equipped with MVR units, justice and fairness demands nothing less.
-Justin J. McShane, Esquire, Pennsylvania DUI Attorney
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