In brief: Modern smartphones have a multitude of uses, including as police body cameras. Samsung has announced that deputies in the Kit Carson Sheriff’s Office in Burlington, Colorado, will soon be wearing Galaxy S9 handsets on their duty vests.
There are numerous advantages to using Samsung’s device over a traditional body camera, not least the improved image quality that the phones offer. They can also be used to document evidence, and their push-to-talk function acts as a backup radio in the event of a problem with a deputy’s primary radio. Additionally, the phones will allow the Sheriff’s office to monitor the location of its deputies.
The Galaxy S9 devices will run on AT&T's LTE-based FirstNet platform, which prioritizes public safety communications. Samsung says the S9 was the first smartphone to earn FirstNet Ready certification, “allowing it to function with priority and preemption both on the Band 14 FirstNet spectrum and across the full AT&T LTE spectrum portfolio.” The feature is now standard on all new premium Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
Thanks to the Visual Labs software on the phones, officers can livestream video from the field directly to command, and all content is automatically uploaded to the cloud. The handsets will retain their normal smartphone functions, such as the ability to make phone calls.
“The combination of software and hardware has made upgrading our officer mobility solution cost-effective and simple. It has truly transformed the way we do our jobs,” said Kit Carson County Sheriff Tom Ridnour. “Instead of worrying about taking notes throughout a call, the devices allow officers to concentrate on the call itself, knowing that they can reference the footage later.”
Don’t be surprised if more law enforcement organizations start swapping body cams for smartphones in the future.