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Posts Tagged ‘Digital Media Evidence’

Can CCTV Systems Help Crisis Management in Mass Shootings?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

As school and mass shootings become more prevalent in today’s society, the question is “do CCTV systems help with mass shootings?” Can CCTV Systems Help Crisis Management in Mass Shootings?is on everyone’s mind. While gun control is the first topic people tend to address when discussing these acts of terror, there is another side to the story that may aide in minimizing the total lives lost in these situations sooner than a gun control reform can. One of the most important purposes of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) video recordings is to secure a predetermined area using video cameras connected to a video recorder, which in turn creates the video surveillance footage (evidence). By using modern technology to allow 911 dispatchers access to these surveillance cameras in emergency situations, we would be allowing the dispatchers to give the first responders accurate, real-time information.

 

Can CCTV Systems Help Crisis Management in Mass Shootings?

So, what can we do? Yes, there are changes that need to be made in not only our society, but in the world as a whole. But, what can we do right now to minimize the total amount of lives lost when the next mass shooting takes place? What can we do to catch these shooters before more damage is caused? How can we aid first responders and investigators in completing their jobs to the best of their abilities with the best resources possible? In short, we use modern technology to monitor and take control of the situation efficiently and accurately.

 

History of Mass Shootings

While mass shootings are becoming more frequent (an average of 7 mass shootiCan CCTV Systems Help Crisis Management in Mass Shootings?ngs a week in 2017, CNN), they are not new to our culture. The FBI defines a “mass murder” as 4 or more victims in a single incident. The first heavily recorded United States mass murder occurred in September of 1949. Howard Unruh took the lives of 13 people and injured 3 more in the neighborhood of Cramer Hill in Camden, New Jersey. Since that fateful day, the United States has become the country with one of the highest mass shooting rates. Between 1966 and 2018, there have been 150 mass shootings totaling in 1,077 lives lost. Prior to the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas where 18 lives were lost and 30 people were injured, there were 25 mass shootings from the year 1910. Little is known about these early 20th century killings. Twelve of the deadliest shootings have occurred since 2000, with the deadliest occurring just last year in Las Vegas, Nevada where 58 lives were lost and 500 people were injured at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

 

CCTV and Modern Technology

CCTV surveillance became widely available in the 1970s. There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States. In 2009, Chicago became the “most watched city in the nation” when it linked its estimated 10,000 surveillance cameras with their 911 dispatch center. When a call to 911 comes in, a dispatcher can view a live video of the crime scene as long as it is within 150 feet of a surveillance camera. In the years since Chicago took this initiative, several cities and school districts have followed suit. In 2011, Atlanta, Georgia police began monitoring 100 of the cities surveillance cameras. Atlanta Public Schools gave access to their surveillance cameras to 911 dispatchers in 2014. In 2013, Howard County, Maryland also linked their schools surveillance systems with 911 dispatchers. Near our lab in Rochester Hills, MI, Macomb County is in the process of allowing the Macomb County’s Communications and Technology Center, also known as COMTEC, to gain access to the surveillance systems of all 21 of its school districts.

How does this help inCan CCTV Systems Help Crisis Management in Mass Shootings? the event of a mass shooting? By 911 dispatchers having access to live surveillance footage, they are able to provide first responders with accurate and efficient information. This will then allow the first responders to draft a “plan of attack” that will quickly eliminate the threat so more lives can be saved. Often, in the midst of a mass shooting, 911 dispatchers receive multiple calls with misinformation. Calls stating multiple shooters are present, the location of the shooter that is not accurate, and even that the shooter has left the premises when they in fact have not. With this technology, the dispatcher will be able to quickly see what information received via inbound calls is accurate and what is not.

Surveillance footage is not only helpful during the event, but during the investigation as well. Often, after these tragedies, questions and stories arise of what exactly happened. This is when both CCTV footage and Good Samaritan footage play an integral role. Even if the footage is garbled, pixelated, or otherwise unclear, audio and video forensic experts can enhance the footage so the truth of what transpired can be revealed.

 

So, what can you do?

Talk to your schools principals, district superintendents, local law enforcement, city and state officials, neCan CCTV Systems Help Crisis Management in Mass Shootings?ws outlets, local business and neighbors. Educate them about the importance of CCTV technology and how it can help in emergency situations. Educate yourself on what steps to take if you or a loved one find yourselves in the midst of a mass shooting. Get involved in discussions, don’t sit on the sidelines. Express the importance of alternative solutions to the gun control law regulations and/or political arguments. The solutions expressed in this article are simple to understand and easy to express from the lay persons perspective. You may even find yourself having a conversation with an expert that would find this information valuable.

14: Video Surveillance with David Spreadborough

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

14: Video Surveillance with David SpreadboroughVideo Surveillance expert David Spreadborough is a CCTV investigator and a police officer for the Cheshire Police Department in Cheshire, England.  He has been a part of the police force for 23 years and began his video forensic career in 2003.  David is a member of the Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Video Association International (LEVA), the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), the CCTV National Standards Forum and he sat on the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Working Group for CCTV.  David has taken multiple training courses covering Forensic Video Analysis, CCTV installation and retrieval and Multimedia Evidence Processing. He focuses on CCTV video evidence and has spent the last few years working with CCTV manufacturers to improve the quality of systems as well as the installation and accessibility for law enforcement.

Up until November of 2014, David was the Senior Officer within the Visual Forensic Unit in the Cheshire Police Department and oversaw all major crime video investigations in the department.  It was then decided that Police Officers could no longer hold Forensic positions within the department.  David is currently looking forward to finding new ways to use his expertise as a Forensic Video Investigator and welcomes anyone who is interested in learning more about the field to contact him.

David is dedicated to the development of Forensic Video Analysis and working with new technology to improve the field.  If you would like to contact David, you can find him on linkedin.

Suggested additional reading on video evidence retrieval: https://primeauforensics.com/forensic-digital-media-evidence-retrieval/

Now listen in as Audio and Video Forensic Expert Ed Primeau and Officer David Spreadborough discuss the importance of CCTV systems for law enforcement, the advancements made in video surveillance over the last decade and the challenges being faced by Video Forensic Experts today.

9: How to Recover Digital Media Evidence

Friday, November 7th, 2014

9: How to Recover Digital Media EvidenceI’d like to discuss evidence recovery, specifically digital media evidence recovery.  Having a forensic expert retrieve the evidence maintains the quality of the evidence and can help ensure that the original evidence stays intact on the original system so it can later be retrieved by other parties.  This is why it is extremely important that only a trained expert retrieve the evidence.  In this episode, I will cover proper procedures for evidence retrieval, proper handling of the evidence and what precautions one should take when retrieving digital media evidence from a recording system.

Steps for Proper Evidence Retrieval

1. Research before retrieving the evidence.  The forensic expert should learn everything they can about the recording system beforehand.  Connecting with the manufacturer, reading the manual and researching further online all benefit the expert.  This will make analyzing and operating the system onsite easier for the expert and optimize the retrieval process.

2. Obtain any necessary software, proprietary player or codec. If the system records proprietary or encoded files, the expert should obtain the player or codec beforehand.  If that is not possible, the expert should be prepared to install the necessary player or codec onsite from either the recording system or client.  More often than not, modern digital surveillance systems require a special codec or proprietary player and without this installed, the forensic expert will not be able to access the digital media evidence.

3. Record the evidence retrieval process. The forensic expert should record both audio and video of the evidence retrieval to include in the chain of custody and forensic report.  When I am recovering evidence from a digital recording system, I always have a VIEVU body camera on my person, as well as a digital audio recorder in my pocket.  Along with authenticating the evidence, this can serve as the expert’s notes later on in the investigation in case they need to refer to something that was discussed during the evidence retrieval.

4. Photograph and inspect the digital recording system. The forensic expert should include photographs of the unit in their report and take careful notes on anything they notice about the unit.  This could include damage, tampering or any other abnormalities they notice on the recorder.  Along with the video recording, it is usually beneficial for the expert to photograph anything they note during the process.

5. Follow the manual for the highest quality retrieval. The expert should have the manual with them when retrieving the evidence to make sure that any copy or export is in the highest quality format and does not affect the original recorded file.
photo credit: iLike iRiver via photopin (license)

7: Importance of the Chain of Custody for Digital Media Evidence

Monday, October 27th, 2014

7: Importance of the Chain of Custody for Digital Media EvidenceEstablishing chain of custody when authenticating digital media evidence for use in the courtroom is extremely important. The chain of custody must account for the seizure, storage, transfer and condition of the evidence.  The chain of custody is absolutely necessary for admissible evidence in court.

Importance to the expert

My forensic software allows me to look at the metadata or digital information of an audio or video recording, but does not always allow me to understand how a recording was created.  Just because the information is missing from the metadata does not mean that a recording has been compromised.  This is why the chain of custody information is important to a forensic examiner. It helps show where the file came from, who created it, and the type of equipment that was used.  That way, if I want to create an exemplar, I can get that equipment, create the exemplar and compare it to the evidence to confirm the file properties.

Importance to the court

When I testify in court with a piece of evidence, I am always prepared with the chain of custody.  As I mentioned earlier, without a complete chain of custody, it can become very easy for the opposing attorney or prosecutor to challenge or dismiss the evidence presented.  Having a complete chain of custody form, as well as any other accompanying forms and including any visual proof of retrieval, such as pictures or video, greatly helps prove the authenticity and admissibility of the evidence in the courtroom.

Recently, new ways of establishing a chain of custody have come about and are slowly becoming accepted in the legal community.  Online services are now available for digital evidence that record the chain of custody and who has received the evidence.  The evidence is stored in cloud space and eliminates the need for repeated transference of physical copies.  It maintains standardized security procedures and is also useful as a backup storage space for surveillance cameras.

Chain of custody is important to the court because if I find something wrong with the evidence during the authentication process, it allows me to go back and determine who was responsible for the evidence up until that point. 

Importance to the investigation

The chain of custody is important to the investigation process because it is the first step when authenticating digital audio and video evidence.  Identifying this chain of custody provides information about whether or not this evidence has been copied or cloned.  As technology advances and becomes more accessible, digital media evidence has become easier to edit, modify and alter.  The Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE & IOCE) defines Original Digital Evidence as, “Physical items and the data objects associated with such items at the time of acquisition or seizure.”  It is not always possible to receive the evidence from its original source at the time of acquisition or seizure.  Very often, I receive digital media evidence from a client who may have received it from the police or another source.  When this occurs, I have to pay careful attention to the reports, depositions and other legal documents that accompany the evidence.  This paper trail must be part of an unbroken timeline that shows exactly where the evidence has been between its creation and my examination of it.  When I encounter any gaps in this timeline that can raise questions to the authenticity of the evidence, further investigation becomes necessary.

There are occasions when I am asked by the client to physically retrieve the evidence directly from the recorder that created it.  This process creates the chain of custody for my investigation.  When an expert creates the chain of custody, it removes all doubt as to the authenticity of the evidence.   This process has become more common throughout my investigations when the original evidence is available for my retrieval.  To further authenticate this process, I create audio and video recordings of the retrieval process, which becomes part of the chain of custody. In addition, when I am at the site and I retrieve the digital evidence, I have access to the administrator information about that evidence, such as an administrative log, date and file info, and who accessed the files.  The more information an expert can retrieve strengthens the authentic chain of custody that is created.

Primeau Forensics’ chain of custody process

  • Save original package materials
  • Take photos of physical evidence
  • Take screenshots of digital evidence content
  • Document date, time and any other information of receipt
  • Ingest a bit for bit clone of digital evidence content into our forensic computers
  • Perform a hash test analysis to further authenticate working clone

All of the above information outlined in our forensic procedure for creating a chain of custody is important and necessary to include when creating a forensic report.

When examining digital media evidence, especially digital audio and video recordings, you should never examine the original file.  Always make sure that when you process a piece of evidence, you work on the copy of that file so that the original remains untouched at all times.  That way, if you have to go back to compare your work product to the original, you’ll have that original file preserved.

It doesn’t matter what forensic science you are an expert in.  The chain of custody is always important.  Maintaining that chain of custody is crucial for the credibility of your work product and eventual testimony.

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Abc Def
20:32 03 Dec 18
Primeau Forensics is a professional, top-flight organization that knows how to access and deliver verifiable forensics information quickly, efficiently and productively. Don't let their cheerful, friendly attitude make you think they are not on top of their game--they are!read more
dan schulte
18:35 12 Dec 18
I received credentials from two technicians, then a third person ended up doing all the work and kept in touch with me by e-mail. I never saw any proof that the work was done and they told me they found nothing. They could not tell me what was making the noise or the lights. A waste of $750.00.read more
Teresa Galyon
16:13 13 Dec 18
Excellent work. Primeau took a low light camera recording of vandalism at my home and converted the video to images that we used to identity the vandals. Additionally, Primeau was able to identify characteristics of the vandals car that were used for a positive identification. Services were efficient, timely, and professionalread more
Todd Conte
15:18 27 Aug 18
Ed and his team are great! I took in footage of my boyfriends dog being stolen and they were so willing to take every step possible to enhance the video to retrieve the information we needed. The resolution on our camera/video wasn't great (our fault, not theirs) and they were unable to get the information we needed BUT they guided me in the next steps to take. Thank you guys!!read more
Anita Tela
12:47 23 Oct 17
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