Caught on Camera: How Security Cameras Can Aid Law Enforcement


Once again, our top story, another bombing, this time of a local transit bus. As authorities scramble to respond to this latest incident We’ve learned that law enforcement is following leads to a possible domestic terror group. Police are looking for a man seen getting off of the bus moments before the explosion. The man is described as a Caucasian of average build, approximately 6 feet tall and one hundred seventy-five pounds. The man was wearing a denim jacket. [explosion] News Six has learned that authorities have already received claims of responsibility by known domestic terror groups but officials had no comment at this time, saying only that the FBI is following up on all leads and is coordinating with local law enforcement. News 6 reporter Lisa Vasquez spoke with special agent, who is leading the investigation. What can you tell us about the investigation There’s a great deal of physical evidence and we’re following up on all leads. Do you see any similarities between the earlier bombing and this one? Not at this time. Do you think that both of the bombings could be the work of a single person? We can’t say at this time But what about the bomber’s letters to the newspapers? What can you tell us about that? This is an ongoing investigation and we’re following up on all available resources to bring to justice, those who are responsible. That’s all I can say for now, thank you. We’ve got a couple of witnesses say that only one guy got off at this stop, walking with his head down, headed back in the direction the bus came from Oh, okay. So south, southeast Right Okay, let’s go through all the closed circuit TV potential. There’s a lot of businesses in the area, maybe one of ’em got something on video. They’re checking. Good what about forensics? As a business owner, you already know that “CCTV”, closed circuit television, can help deter or solve a crime on your premises. You’re about to see that they can do even more. Your CCTV system might even help solve a terrorist attack. That is, if it’s up to the task. Basic setup and maintenance problems reduce the performance of many systems. So, what about yours? Do your cameras provide enough resolution for facial recognition? Are they positioned for a clear view of the subject? Is the lighting adequate to capture clear images both day and night? Is your recorder set up for the best image detail? Are you maintaining and managing your system so that it can do its job when it’s really needed? We’re gonna show you how to get the most from your CCTV system and that starts with capturing “recognition quality images”, with the detail law enforcement needs to identify the people and events captured by your cameras. Whadda we have? You want the good news or the bad news? There’s good news? We canvassed a pharmacy and they mentioned that someone came in and bought four gallons of flammable liquid. The cashier thought is was a little weird, and also said the guy paid in cash. Please tell me there was a camera on his face. I’ll get to that. We have another lead. A female who works the cheap motels on Route 60, says she was waiting on someone, and saw a guy matching the description wearing a denim jacket. Also said he had a tattoo on his neck. Said he came in, paid for five nights in cash. Said he didn’t have any ID or credit cards and put another hundred on the counter. Did we get him on camera? No, the system wasn’t running, and as for the pharmacy What? Well we’re getting to the bad news part. What, was the camera off? Did they run out of tape? What? No, we got him at the pharmacy. So, how is that bad? It might be easier if we just show you. That’s the pharmacy? Yeah. See, the sun is so bright on the doorway Yeah I see. No, I don’t see. Wait, where did he go? The camera is using a low frame rate. Saves on drive space and gives you a better image quality. But, the problem is you might not get any image at all. Now you see him, now you don’t. Exactly. Here he is walking down the aisle way and picking out a couple of backpacks. Now, ERT found pieces of backpacks at both scenes consistent with the types sold at this store. This is useless. We got a really good shot of that sign Which does what? Which does nothing. Here he is at the cash register. And that is what we call a focus problem probably haven’t checked the thing in weeks Can you enhance it? I’m not a wizard, and we’re not on TV, so no. I can enlarge it for you, but without the details So what we’re seeing is, we would have had him, except for the sun on the door, the display blocking the view, the other camera set up. Someone tell me, is it so hard to get these things set up and useful? I mean it’s not that hard but merchants aren’t thinking about what we might need in law enforcement. They just figure, ‘Hey, I’ve got a camera, I’m covered’. They’re not thinking about image quality. You know, we see this kind of thing everyday. What kind of thing? English please. Small words. I’ll show you. Now to start with, what most people would call “taking a picture” we like to call “capturing an image” or better yet, “capturing video data.” The better the quality of the data, the better the quality of the image, the more you can see and the more you can do with it. Okay so far? Makes sense. Now, there’s all kinds of equipment for capturing images. Setting up the best CCTV requires figuring out the best hardware for a business owner’s needs. Now, some hardware is just no good for that no matter what. This is a web cam. Check this out. See? Blurry, out of focus,okay for internet, totally awful if you need quality video. There’s just not enough detail. We’ve got a capture, but it’s not what we call recognition quality, the resolution is too low. We got analog, digital, black and white, color all these cameras use chips and generally speaking, the bigger the chip the better the picture quality you get better detail, more control of contrast like between very bright and very dim areas like in the pharmacy? Exactly, hey, do you mind walking over to the mannequin for me? We’ll bring back our friend the webcam. Check this out. Look familiar? Okay now watch this. This is a good camera, high resolution. Plenty of dynamic range. See? A camera like this one has no trouble keeping up with shifting conditions. Far superior capture technology. Higher resolution. Better dynamic range. Here, look at ’em side by side. There’s no comparison. Exactly. The minimum camera resolution should be 480 horizontal lines. But it’s not just about resolution and range. That camera, the good one, also has a faster lens. “Faster”? A faster lens allows more light in. Has a larger maximum aperture opening, which lets more light through to the focal plane of the camera. Now what this does is it allows for brighter images in dimmer lighting. More light means more depth of field. Depth of field? The more depth of field you have, the more of the scene is in focus. You also have to consider focal length. Focal length? Right. Some cameras zoom in and out, where others have a fixed focal length, it all depends on what you need. Right, say for anything at a point of transaction, like at a cash register or a toll booth the subjects head should fill at least 15% of the total image in frame giving you the detail you need. So you’d like the back to school sign to be at zero percent, right? Right, lines of sight are always critical. You want to make sure there aren’t any obstructions. Which is all part of having the right site plan. Now, here is a store blueprint. Now, this is retail so the key camera spots are transaction points Cash registers? Right, and entrances and exits. Do we need both? The more the better. You’re going to want cameras here, here, here, and here. Now, you’ll have to throw in some extra coverage for restrooms, and the aisles, and other key points. Can you show coverage? Of course. Hang on. Oh, good overlap. Right, you want multiple chances to capture a good image Guy comes in here, boom, got him. Guy goes over to get a snack or something, boom, got him again. Guy comes over to check out, boom. Exits the building and, boom. Also, the camera height is very important you want to make sure it’s as close to eye level as possible. Otherwise you might lose out to a baseball cap. And with a good site plan you can make sure you don’t have any blind spots. You can toy around with the camera positions. Do a test recording to make sure you’re getting what you wanted. Another big thing here is lighting. I thought lens speed took care of light problems It helps, but it isn’t the whole ball game Then what kind of camera do we get Oh, no, I’m talking about actual lights. Here. Take a look at this. See, the lighting is great in the morning, but by the afternoon the sun’s blowing out the whole frame. But look, you add an extra bank of lights to fill in during the afternoon and you get more clarity. See, you can balance bright light from one direction with light from another source. You’re adding more light, but it’s from another direction and it helps even things out. And sometimes if you have bright light through a big window, you have no choice but to, say, tint the window or put up a shade. And if you’re outside, say, in the street or parking lot you need to set up timers on your artificial lights. You’d rather them coming on a little earlier than a little later. Take a look at this. This is a gas station we worked with, they were having break-ins at the rear of the building, and they had a good quality camera and lights on a timer but they weren’t keeping up with how much earlier it was getting dark. Chance to see the bad guy and we miss it. So they adjust their timer. A few days later, The same guy tries it again but this time we got him. So I use higher resolution? Yep. And control for the right depth of field and contrast. uh huh Then if I put together a site plan with the correct camera coverage, positioning, frames per second, and lighting, and I’m more likely to get a recognition-quality recording. You got it! [phone rings] Yeah? We’re on our way. The home supply store has some video for us, we can pick it up. Hang on, there’s a couple things you guys got to know before you can go I’ll call you when we’re rolling, you can fill me in en route. You mean we just can’t grab the tape and bring it back? Chances are there is no tape. Most systems now a days are fully digital. So, you are going to have to go over the recordings and make sure the video you want is there. The guy said it was there! Yeah, but it could be over-recorded by now. So make sure. And, you need to figure out how much footage you need to collect, then make sure you collect in the native file with the proprietary player. Okay, slow down. Speak English please. The native file is just the original form of a file. With most digital systems, the specific attributes of the video files are proprietary to the program that created it. You’re not speaking English yet. DVR’s use compression to get more space out of their storage. Some compression throws away potential image detail. The native file format is usually the least compressed. Best image, but you usually need specific manufacturer software to play it. A lot of systems export what we like to call ‘open file,’ like .avi. Problem is, they’re usually compressed even further. Which means image quality is reduced. Whew. I actually understood that. Good. So get me both formats. One other thing. We’re gonna need to know the output options on the machine to retrieve the video. Output options? Yeah. It could be a DVD, CD burner, or USB port Okay I’m with you. If we run into anything weird we’ll give you a shout from the store. Otherwise, we’ll call you when we’re inbound. Okay. So this is about ten minutes’ worth, you said? What’s the video format? It’s an avi file I think. Is that the native recording? I’m not sure what it is, but it’s what we have. Hang on. Calling for backup? You bet your badge Edwards. Yeah, yeah, we’re here. Now listen, we have the avi file but the fella that’s helping us out is not sure if it’s the native recording or not. OK. Let me talk to him. Um, our wants to ask you a few questions. Sure. Hello? Hi. I need to get some system information. Sure. If you can get me a brand name and a model number, then I can figure out the native format. I don’t see a brand, but the model number is XL327 Yeah, I know it. the native format isn’t AVI, it’s DVR. Does that sound familiar? No. Okay, thanks. Would you put Agent Jacobs back on ? Okay. He wants to talk to you again. Yeah? Really? Okay. Sir, we’re gonna need to retrieve the native file in addition to the avi file. Can you do that? I don’t know how. But the installer may still be here on site. Let me see. Sara. Is the CCTV guy still here? Yes. Can you send him to the office please? Sure, stand by. Thank you. Good. We’re gonna review the avi files while we wait, ok. Help yourself ! Thanks. Okay here we go That’s weird. What Lemme check. yeah, there’s only these FIVE camera views. Just these and that’s it. Oh, so you’re thinking of getting all the camera views. Yeah, why not, I mean they’ve got at least fifteen, sixteen cameras, we should review them all. We could get lucky. Hi guys. How can I help you? Hi. Yeah. We need video from all the cameras during the time of the incident in the native file format. Can you do that? Yeah, sure. No problem. It’ll take a while. Did you want the viewer with that? Yeah. And we can wait. Can you throw in the avi’s too? Sure. Thanks. You never know how many people need fertilizer till you see it like this Yeah, I’m thinking about paving my whole yard, save some time. You see what we were talking about earlier, with resolution and frames per second. Yeah, I see that camera there isn’t picking up all the video frames but it’s a tradeoff between camera quality or what we can fit on the drive. Whoa-whoa! Back it up, back it up about two seconds. Okay Freeze. Make it bigger. That guy. That could be I mean, that’s a denim jacket can’t see much else, but He was in here you can bet a week’s pay. Hey, did you make a site plan? Yup. We keep that with the system. It’s right here. Thanks. If this site plan is accurate they’ve got pretty good coverage We’re looking for Tuesday the fourteenth, around eleven in the morning. Okay Here is what that guy wanted to give you, the AVI file, and here is the native, proprietary format. Wow. Yup, they lose a ton of resolution when they convert formats. Hey guys! Grab camera four and step through about eleven oh five, I think the guy must have… Parking lot! Good idea, we get a better view. There! That him? By the green car? I think he’s right. Can you get closer to get a license plate number? No way. These cams are good but they’re just set up for a wide angle view of the lot. I can’t get the plate, but it looks to me like that’s a green late model 4-door. I am sick to death of “almost”! Lemme just see if they oh yes, Thank you, thank you, thank you! What? Look, see this site plan has everything it gives camera positions, resolutions, frames per second, setup, frame size everything, this is exactly what a site plan is supposed to look like, now we just need… Try camera three! Exactly. What’s camera three? It shows a lot of the same area, but slightly different angle but much, much better quality. And more frames per second gives us more to work with. Let me just move through Bingo! That’s him! There he is! Got his face Nice resolution, and we can get in Pretty close I think our best bet is camera twelve, behind the register. There! Wait, hold on, hold on they have a close-up camera. There’s the tattoo! Right there! Yep we’ve got four gallons of bomb making fluid, the car, the tattoo and his face! I’m gonna call our guy at the motel. Hello Cal! Yeah, listen up, it’s Jacobs we’re pretty sure that the guy’s in a green, late model 4-door, we, do you? Sit tight. I’ll get back to you. Get SWAT and the bomb techs to that address! We have your face. [SWAT team moves in…] So many ways for the system to fail The wrong camera the right camera, used the wrong way not making the most of your site plan not getting the most out of your recording equipment insufficient training of the staff that works with the gear But: when the system works It can make all the difference. We hope this video makes a difference in the way you think about and operate your CCTV system. If you’re gonna do it, do it right, for yourself; for law enforcement; and your community. For a quick review, along with more details on CCTV operations, set up and maintenance, click on the special features section of this DVD. I’m Annie Wersching. Thanks for watching.

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