A Guide to Selecting Dash Cams for Police Cars

April 19, 2021

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Key Takeaways

As of 2016, more than 69% of general-purpose law enforcement agencies in the United States had dash cams in their vehicles. In this guide, learn how dash cam technology has evolved—plus get a list of key features to consider when evaluating in-car camera systems for police cars.

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Why consider dash cams for police cars?

Many law enforcement agencies in the United States rely on dash cams (or dashboard cameras) to help with driver training and video evidence. In fact, a United States Department of Justice report found that more than 69% of general-purpose law enforcement agencies in the United States had dash cams in 2016. Today, advancements in camera technology have made police dash cams even more advanced, affordable, and reliable.

How has dash cam technology for police cars evolved over the years?

Dash cam technology has evolved tremendously over the past decade. At first, car video cameras were simple event recorders that captured footage until their storage was full. They required manually retrieving footage from police vehicles and downloading it to a computer. More recently, car video systems became internet-connected, with the ability to auto-upload video footage to the cloud and retrieve additional video evidence via a secure online dashboard. Camera technology itself has improved as well, with high-definition video recorders that optimize for low light conditions.

What features are important to consider when evaluating dash cam solutions for police cars?

There are many different dash cam options available for law enforcement or highway patrol vehicles. Here are a few of the most important features to consider when evaluating different in-car camera solutions:

  • Different configurations: Dash cams come in a variety of different configurations. Front-facing dash cams are mounted on the windshield and have one lens that faces the road ahead. Dual-facing dash cams (or dual cameras) have an additional lens that faces inward to capture video within the police cruiser as well.

  • Video retrieval: Some dash cam systems offer the ability to request additional video footage from vehicles based on date, time, or location. This can be helpful for retrieving additional video evidence and aiding in investigations.

  • HD video resolution: Resolution (or image quality) depends on how many pixels the dash cam records. High-definition forward-facing dash cams should record video in full HD 1080p, which will make it possible for you to see the road ahead clearly in video recordings and make out numbers on license plates.

  • Field of view: Field of view is how much of the road (or inside of the police car) the dash cam can see. To ensure your police car cameras capture a broad field of view, look for a wide angle or semi-wide angle lens.

  • Night vision: Some dash cams are optimized for capturing footage at night or in low-light conditions. Since police officers work around the clock, it’s important to look for a dash cam with infrared LED, which is particularly important for capturing video footage inside an unlit patrol car at night, if you select a dual-facing camera.

  • Live streaming: Not all in-car camera systems offer live streaming as a feature. Live streaming can be a helpful feature for police agencies that want the option to stream live video and audio from a dash cam to a secure cloud-based dashboard in real time.

  • Audio speaker and recording: Some dash cams include built-in speakers that can play verbal and/or audio alerts when unsafe driving behavior is detected. You may also be able to turn on recording to capture audio during safety events.

  • Real-time GPS tracking: Connectivity to a GPS tracking device is incredibly helpful for enriching your dash cam footage with additional location data. With real-time GPS location data, you can pinpoint the exact location of the dash cam video and retrieve additional video evidence based on location data if needed.

  • Internet connectivity: Most dash cams have a micro SD card or memory card that stores footage locally. In addition, advanced fleet dash cam systems can connect to the internet via a high-speed cellular connection, which allows the dash cam to send footage to the cloud. This provides nearly instant access to auto-uploaded footage, and you can access camera footage from a secure dashboard.

  • Mounting: The two most popular ways to install dash cams are via a suction cup or adhesive. Some dash cams may also attach to your rear view mirror. Adhesive attachments are generally a more secure option that still offer quick and easy installation.

Learn more about Samsara AI Dash Cams

Samsara AI Dash Cams offer high-end resolution, 30 frame per second capture, and in-cab infrared LED for unlit nighttime video. With both forward-facing and dual-facing options—as well as features like auto-uploaded safety event footage, on-demand video retrieval, and Live Streaming—Samsara AI Dash Cams are a great option for law enforcement agencies looking for an advanced, reliable dash cam solution. 

Looking to learn more about how Samsara can benefit your government fleet? Get in touch with our team today to learn more or get a free trial.

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