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Back to Archives | Back to November 2008 Contents 

Advances & Applications

Where do the good ideas come from? In this column, we offer our readers the opportunity to learn about — and benefit from — some of the cutting-edge technologies being implemented

San Rafael SWAT Unit Benefits from New Surveillance System

The special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team in San Rafael, California, recently obtained a Mobile Video Surveillance (MVS) system from Venture Tec LLC. The MVS system was developed for law enforcement, military, or security use. The most outstanding feature of the system is its mobility. It can quickly and easily relocate to surveillance areas, thus optimizing detection ability. The system is unique in that it incorporates an adjustable, telescopic pole hitch, which allows users to quickly position the pole vertically at any location, including uneven or sloping terrain. Unlike a trailer-mounted system, this surveillance system can be used anywhere the vehicle can go.

After the San Rafael SWAT unit implemented its MVS system, Commander Jeff Franzini commented, “It works great, and the guys are coming up with all kinds of situations for its use!”

The system attaches to any vehicle with a standard 2” x 2” Class III receiver and pneumatically telescopes to elevations up to 32 feet. It is simple to use, takes only a minute to raise or lower, and can operate day or night in nearly all weather conditions. The system can be equipped with either a low lux visible light camera or a thermal camera for complete darkness. All surveillance can be done from inside the safety and comfort of the vehicle, and all video is recorded with a date/time stamp on a small DVR. To operate the system, users simply tilt the mast to find vertical, lock it in place, and then pump the pole to the desired height. The PTZ controller and video display provide an unparalleled view from above in all directions. When the vehicle is ready to relocate, users simply open an air release valve to lower the mast.

For more information, click here, and enter number 48.

Glassboro Chooses American Traffic Solutions to Run Photo Enforcement Program

Leo McCabe, mayor of the Borough of Glassboro, New Jersey, and the Glassboro Council signed a resolution to apply to become the first municipality in southern New Jersey to install cameras on local traffic lights.

If Glassboro is selected under the state’s new pilot program, a total of 21 cameras will be installed at six major intersections to record red light violations, including illegal right turns at red lights and running a red light. The resolution also indicates that if selected as a pilot program, American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS), will run the red light photo enforcement program for the borough.

“Studies and community testimonials prove that these cameras successfully reduce the crashes and injuries caused by red light runners,” said Alex J. Fanfarillo, Glassboro chief of police. “If ATS can help us save just one life or prevent a serious injury, this program will be a success.”

New Jersey would be the 19th state to use ATS’s advanced photo enforcement technology. ATS serves more than 120 cities in North America with red light and speed camera programs, including Philadelphia; New York; and Washington, D.C.

“ATS has a major presence in the Northeast with nearby regional service facilities and experienced staff,” said Joe Brigandi, borough administrator. “Add ATS’s track record of success and their advanced single-camera technology, and it makes for a perfect partnership.”

The Borough of Glassboro, located in the heart of Gloucester County, New Jersey, is a suburban community that prides itself on its hometown family makeup while supporting an economically viable business district with a unique mix of nonprofit, commercial, and small businesses. Glassboro is home to 21,750 residents as well as Rowan University, which serves 10,000 students and employs more than 1,200 local residents.

For more information, click here, and enter number 49.

Video Forensics Helps Utica Police Solve Crimes Caught on Camera

Video cameras are as commonplace in Utica, New York, as they are elsewhere in the United States. As a result, crime scene video in Utica is an increasingly available source of evidence for local law enforcement personnel.

Patrolman Greg Facciolo of the Utica Police Department’s Crime Scene Unit is responsible for video forensics—the use of video image enhancement technology for the needs of the law enforcement community.

“Before we discovered VideoFOCUS from Salient Stills, we had cobbled together a system where we would play a video tape through the computer. When we got to a frame we thought we could use, we would pause and print it out,” said Facciolo. “It was a really bad system, with a lot of time and effort devoted to what were often poor printouts.”

Utica police needed a video forensic system that was quick and easy to use and could provide clear, still images of subjects, so investigators could spend time looking for criminals, rather than waiting for video evidence to be processed.

“We quickly determined Salient Stills designed VideoFOCUS to truly match our needs as law enforcement video guys,” said Facciolo.

Patrolman Facciolo used VideoFOCUS to examine video evidence for a homicide. After committing a murder, a suspect headed for a nearby parking lot, which the suspect likely did not realize had a video surveillance system.

Fortunately, the parking lot cameras captured the suspect stealing a vehicle before fleeing the state. At the trial, the video footage was used to place him in the stolen car back at the scene of the theft and the murder. This evidence ultimately led to his conviction.

In this and other cases, Facciolo says, “Video FOCUS is easier to use and safer for original evidence, because you can digitize the video and play it as often as needed.” ■

For more information, click here, and enter number 50.



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXV, no. 11, November 2008. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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