Capturing Backseat Confessions

Tags: , ,

In the context of a criminal investigation, police are legally bound to remind people of their right to remain silent during interrogations. But they don’t have to give anyone a heads-up about staying quiet in the back seat of a police car. There, anything they say can and will be used against them.

Incriminating Statements

Backseat cameras (often referred to as rear or cabin cameras) record audio and video of suspects seated in the rear of the patrol vehicle. This evidence can be a windfall for agencies. It often leads to criminals closing their own cases by making incriminating statements while being recorded by the camera system – especially when an officer isn’t present.

Backseat confessions are frequently admissible in court as the nature of the vehicle and the presence of electronics capable of transmitting any conversations suggests no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Related: In-Car Video Exonerates Officer

Switch to Covert Mode with 4RE

WatchGuard’s 4RE in-car video system comes standard with a software feature that allows the officer to record activities inside the cabin without the suspect’s knowledge.

In Covert Mode, the 4RE control screen goes dark and all cameras, including the infrared cabin camera, appear turned off.

When the 4RE is integrated with one or more WatchGuard VISTA body-worn cameras, the VISTA units can follow the 4RE and enter Covert Mode. Both the in-car system and body-worn cameras appear off.

Practical Application

So, how does Covert Mode work in the field?

Exiting the Vehicle While the Suspect Remains in the Back Seat

Enter Covert Mode by pressing and holding the system power button for three seconds. Place the system in Covert Mode in view of the suspect sitting in the back seat and exit the vehicle. To the suspect, the officer appears to be turning off the system.

While in the Vehicle with the Suspect in the Back Seat

Place the system in Covert Mode well in view of the suspect sitting in the back seat and stay in the vehicle. To the suspect, the officer appears to be turning off the system and will shortly become comfortable saying things “off camera.” (Read: United States v. Webster: A Patrol Car Confession.)

Covert Mode and the 4RE In-Car Camera System

When used in accordance with agency policy, covert recordings of suspect activities while seated in the backseat of the patrol car can provide valuable and admissible video and audio evidence. This can strengthen an agency’s case and streamline the judicial process.

Want to learn how Covert Mode with 4RE from WatchGuard can improve your chances of securing a confession? Contact a WatchGuard in-car video expert now.