All of Oklahoma’s 114 Game Wardens were recently equipped with body-worn cameras to document law enforcement activities.
“Body-worn cameras have been under consideration at ODWC for several years,” said Col. Nathan Erdman, Chief of Law Enforcement for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “After seeing them in action, it is clear that the body cameras are a very effective tool.”
The cameras are fully functioning smartphones using a software application from Visual Labs, a California software company. The device can also function as a digital camera, an audio recorder and a personnel locator.
“We were looking for a cost-effective system that would be easy for our Game Wardens to use in the field and for our headquarters staff to manage remotely. The footage and location data were extremely valuable in documenting a recent land access dispute,” Erdman said.
“One of the features that increases our operational efficiency is the ability for automatic upload of footage directly from the field,” Erdman said. “Once a body camera recording is completed, the footage is automatically uploaded. This eliminates the need for docking stations, routers, data cables or any additional hardware.”
The Visual Labs body camera includes several officer safety features such as the ability to live-stream video and audio from the scene. Also, a suite of location analytics, such as heat-mapping capabilities, allows Game Wardens to better document their activities in their assigned areas in daily activity logs for supervisors’ review.
ODWC chose the Kyocera DuraForce PRO 2, a waterproof and dustproof “ruggedized” Android smartphone. Each smartphone is connected to FirstNet built with AT&T.
Visual Labs CEO Alex Popof said the introduction of body cameras went smoothly. “Col. Erdman and his team’s preparation coupled with our previous experience with other wildlife agencies led to a quick and smooth rollout. On a Monday morning, there were 114 phones in individual boxes, and by noon, a quarter of the Department had been fully trained on the Visual Labs application and evidence management website. Over the following week, the balance of the Department was fully trained.”