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Police Vehicle Digital Camera Standards Proposed

The standard will establish a minimum level of performance for systems to enhance officer safety and the effectiveness of audio/video evidence.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is seeking comments on proposed standards for new digital video cameras for police vehicles that cover such areas as the testing of the cameras, rules of evidence, the batteries and accessories that can be used.

A notice announcing the standards—Vehicular Digital Multimedia Evidence Recording System Standard for Law Enforcement—was posted on the Federal Register on Dec. 15, 2010, and the deadline for comments on the requirements is Jan. 31, 2011.

The standard “is to establish a minimum level of performance for systems to enhance officer safety and the effectiveness of audio/video evidence,” the document says.

The standard establishes “minimum requirements for the design, performance, testing, documentation and labeling of vehicular digital multimedia evidence (DME) recording systems used by law enforcement officers for recording events occurring in and around the vehicle.”

Under the standards, a digital video camera system “shall consist of at least one primary camera, at least one primary wireless microphone, at least one wired microphone, a digital recorder, a video monitor and an audio monitor.” The video and audio monitors can be combined into a single video/audio monitor, and the system shall have the option to incorporate an additional wireless microphone which shall meet the requirements of the primary microphone.

In addition, the system shall have the option of incorporating a secondary video camera, and it shall have the capability of recording DME in an electronic file format for the storage that can be electronically transferred to an external device, the standard says.

A digital video system shall have the minimum capabilities of recording one video stream, three synchronized audio streams and associated metadata.

It shall also restrict access to the programming functions including, but not limited to, date/time features and it shall prevent the user from erasing, altering, and/or recording over previously recorded information from either inside the vehicle, or at the recording device controls.

The primary digital camera shall face the front of the vehicle and shall be equipped with autofocus, automatic exposure and automatic “white balance,” the standard says. In addition, a vehicle’s secondary camera shall be capable of automatically transitioning from the visible spectrum only to inclusion of the near-infrared in low light.


The system’s primary microphone shall contain an integrated antenna, and shall be able to activate audio and video recording from a remote transmitter. It shall also transmit audio within frequency bands approved by the Federal Communications Commission, and will contain a memory-free rechargeable battery easily replaced by the user without special tooling.

The system’s video monitor shall have a viewing screen with a diagonal of at least three inches and shall be able to display color, the standard says. The video monitor shall be capable of displaying a live picture from the system cameras when the system is operating (even if recording is not in progress), and the viewing screen’s light level shall be user adjustable, which can be turned off independently from the rest of the system.

The entire document can be viewed at, and comments can be filed at that website.