Police Blotter

Cameras, Cars, & Cops – Gearing up with the WSPD

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by Camel City Dispatch

By Chad Nance

Local police forces gearing up has been in the national news lately with the militarization of municipal, county, and state law enforcement agencies using that sweet Patriot Act cash to buy body armor, tanks, and the kind of hardware and ammo better suited for blowing holes in ISIS than they are being used policing the streets of the homeland. Here in Winston-Salem two recent additions are neither military nor targeted at any specific threat. The WSPD has announced that patrol officers will now be sporting body cameras. Hopefully this new tool will be utilized to increase transparency and protect the safety and dignity of citizens and police officers alike. Some of our patrol officers will also begin driving the new Dodge Charger Pursuit cruisers that have muscle car engines, a new low-profile light package, and an interior array of electronics that is as impressive as it is solid and cutting edge.

axon flex body camera
axon flex body camera

On Tuesday the WSPD begins deploying 95 Body Worn Cameras. That will be in addition to the 35 the downtown Bike Patrol, DWI Task Force, and the Traffic Enforcement Unit in 2012. the new cameras will be issued to the WSPD’s Patrol Division, K-9 Unit, and School Resource Officer Unit.

Each Axon flex camera contains an on board digital video recorder. They contain a wide angle, 75-degree field of view lens. Axon cameras have three variable video quality setitngs. The internal digital storage is 8 GB of flash memory which will keep up to 13 hours of video depending on the video quality chosen by the user. The resolution is 640×480 with an output ratio of 4:3. the display resolution is 480P. The isn’t exactly HDTV quality, but it is considered enhanced-definition TV and with smaller screens the resolution is top shelf.

After each shift an officer will place the camera into a docking station called an Evidence Transfer Manager. That unit both charges the camera, checks the internet for software updates, and uploads the videos to EVIDENCE.com, a cloud storage system created and maintained by TASER. This is considered a secure, redundant data center. All of this is accomplished automatically without the officer doing more than plugging his camera in and going home.

This means that the captured video is never in human hands. According to the manufacturer it cannot be deleted or altered on the camera and is never stored in a general use PC at the individual law enforcement agency. Officers can turn the camera on and off for personal bathroom breaks, etc. While each individual officer has sole control over when their camera goes on and off, those policies are created within each individual agency. At no time, however, does the tech allow the officers to change, edit, or delete video that has been captured.

Prior to making a data uplink, the Axon camera generates a digital security ID (they use a “double hash algorithm) that verifies the original file has never been altered or tampered with. The days shift file is then uploaded of a secure, encrypted transport link.

dodge charge pursuit
dodge charge pursuit

While the cameras are certainly 21st Century, the new police cruisers are a marriage of the 21st Century and the golden age of American Muscle Cars (roughly 1951 to 1971). The Dodge Charger Pursuit package is a sleek throwback sporting a 5.7 Hemi V8(with 21st Century fuel saver tech), performance front and rear suspension, load-leveling/Nivomat rear shocks, Ballistic door panels, front steel seatback panel inserts, and traction control at any speed.

Chrysler began working with experimental, hemispherical head (Hemi) engines during WWII. The first Hemi was a V16 rated a 2,5000horse power and built as the power plant for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt figther airplane. Chrysler also placed v12 Hemis into the M47 Patton tank. the car company used this war time R&D to create the very first, overhead-valve V8 engine. This they called the FirePower (not Hemi). These engines, sold from 1951 to 1958 are commonly referred to as “First Generation” Hemis. They had a distinctive lay-out with the distributor mounted in the rear with the spark plugs in a row down the center with extra-wide valve covers.


These were the granddaddys of the Hemis now rumbling under the hoods of the WSPD’s new Chargers. These Hemis are turning out 370 horse power with as much as 395 lb-ft of torque. These cars don’t get up and go, they squat down, grip the road then roar.

This kind of power and the way that police officers have to drive require a heavy-duty, self-colled power steering system and a five-speed automatic transmission with built in, race car inspired AutoStick technology. Autostick (Porche uses the same tech, but calls it Tiptronic) gives the driver the ability to manually select gears when necessary. It also provides the officer with the ability to take of from 2nd or even 3rd in order to improve the Chargers traction with inclement road conditions. AutoStick also saves fuel and improves the performance and attitude of the car by allowing quicker and more precise shifting.

Charger Pursuit control is the Electronic Stability Control System that includes four-wheel, heavy-duty anti-lock brakes and a “police package” frame and suspension that allows for maximum control and safety at speed. The brakes and all-speed traction control work in conjunction with a two-mode configuration that allows the officer to choose between full or partial functionality given road conditions, weather, and the situation at hand.

Each car comes in from the factory a stripped down shell with a white, factory paint job. Officer J.E. Bowman, WSPD fleet manager, and his crew have to install the mounts for the electronics, the steel and Plexiglas divider between the back and front seats (this is heavy enough steel to also act as a roll bar), and the console electronics themselves. They also install the low-profile LED light bars, and an outside contractor handles the new decals as well as the communications packages including radio, laptop, cell phone mounts, and even bluetooth.

The light bars, themselves, are innovative with the ability to broadcast the normal red and blue as well as providing an intense, hard spotlight that blasts into the rear window of a stopped vehicle allowing the patrol officers protection and the ability to see any threats before they can materialize or escalate.

Technology cannot guarantee safety for police officers or for the public at large. Those are concerns that can only be handled human being to human being. What technology can do, however, is give both the police and the citizens the tools required by the job and the promise of accountability.


led light bar
led light bar






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