Former FBI Analyst on Retrieving Surveillance Video

Author: IPVM Team, Published on Feb 26, 2014

"When a robbery would happen police used to be able to show up, hit eject on the VCR, break the write protect tab on the tape and bag it. Now an officer shows up on the scene and may not have had any training on a DVR and then if they do have training on a specific model, it doesn’t mean they will be able to recover video from every system in their jurisdiction."

Former FBI forensic analyst Jimmy Schroering left government work to co-found DME Forensics, a company to train law enforcement in video forensic analysis directly and through LEVA. We talked with Schroering about the key problems in retrieving surveillance video.

Patrol Officers Should be Trained to Pull Video

Detectives and forensics teams usually have more experience pulling video, but Schroering feels that it’s important that rank and file police officers learn to export video from a variety of systems.

Schroering trains officers on a variety of systems, but he says it's their methodology that is the most important. Officers should be taught what kinds of things they should be looking for, not specific systems.

“If you teach them a specific system, you’re not giving them the troubleshooting skills to work with a system they haven’t been exposed to,” he said. “They need to know what they need to document and the general hierarchy of steps you want to go through."

Seizing a System Should be a Last Resort

The problem with law enforcement who haven’t had any kind of video recovery training, Schroering says, is that they default to the old school way of doing things.

“Now breaking the tab and putting the tape in an envelope is taking the hard drive. If they can’t figure out how to take the video on site, they think that’s their best bet ... if you take a hard drive you at least need the system to pull the files off,” he said.

Officers should be taught if they are going to seize the hard drive, then to just seize the whole system, he says.

End Users Need to Know What Exported Video Actually Looks Like

“There are a lot of installers our there who are selling them a dream ... They test the system and show a live view from the DVR, but until you actually try to view recorded footage or download that footage, you don’t know for sure if what is being captured is going to be the final product,” he said. End users should have at least a basic knowledge of how different settings are going to impact the exported video. For example, if a person wants to make sure a system can see a license plate, they need to export the footage to see if they can see a license plate.

“Everyone goes back and fixes their system or adjusts it after an incident,” he said. It’s better to know what you’re working with before an incident happens.

Forensics Guys Want High Quality Video, End Users Want to Keep it Cheap

The more they can get from an end user, the more they have to work with, so it’s understandable that forensics guys want people to record at a higher quality.

“I would much rather have higher quality video with less retention. But it depends on how often you review things ... If you know that you don’t do it often enough then maybe you can't have shorter retention times. It’s always a tradeoff,” he said.

It’s harder for end users to notice a difference in compression on-screen, but it’s hard not to notice in terms of cost, which is why end users stick with more compression.

Hold on to Handbooks and Passwords

These can be extremely helpful for police when trying to figure out how to take footage.

“The systems don’t always work as advertised, but with that manual there are things you can figure out,” he said. Other information end users should keep handy is the contact information for the person or integrator who installed the system. Anything that can help the police get the footage faster.

“They are often going from site to site from your business to the next business, doing these recoveries,” he said.

The Number One Problem With Systems They See

Schroering says the number one problem they see with DVRs is that fans don’t work or don’t work well.

“These things are on 24/7 most of the time. The fans are kind of crucial. If you have it locked in a closet [with poor air circulation] then you run the risk of it just dying,” he said.

Schroering says end users should try and maintain their security equipment like they would computers.

“You’re not going to shove a computer in the ceiling. The cheaper systems are more likely to fail in these circumstances,” he said.

Comments (7): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Washington DC MPD's Surveillance Equipment on Feb 21, 2017
The Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department's surveillance system was hacked in January 2017. Two immediate questions were: Whose...
Boycott Anixter, Says 82% Integrators on Feb 05, 2017
82% of 130 145 integrator respondents say integrators should boycott Anixter, in response to Anixter / Bosch Sells Direct to Amazon. This is the...
Anixter / Bosch Sells Direct to Amazon on Jan 18, 2017
Anixter regularly says they do not sell direct to end users or that they do not do it anymore. However, over the past year, Anixter has sold Bosch...
How Axis Can Beat Hikvision on Jan 09, 2017
Hikvision has rocked the industry globally, bullying former video surveillance revenue leader Axis even in the Western world. What can Axis...
Introduction To Burglar Alarm Systems on Jan 04, 2017
While alarm systems are popular, balancing between the right level of protection, the appropriate components and an acceptable price can be very...
'Solution' Manufacturers Threaten Integrators on Dec 09, 2016
The race to the bottom has driven manufacturers to become 'solution' providers, threatening integrators. Axis shift to 'solution' sales might be...
FLIR Acquires Drone Manufacturer For $134M on Dec 01, 2016
FLIR has acquired Prox Dynamics, a Norwegian maker of small military-grade drones, for $134M.  FLIR president Andy Teich provided additional...
Anixter Sales People Selling To End Users on Nov 03, 2016
Anixter's most frequently heard defense of selling to end users is that they used to do it, but not anymore. However, this was undermined by...
The Xiongmai Botnet 'Recall' Will Not Work on Oct 25, 2016
The Xiongmai 'recall' has been the topic of global news, following the unprecedented bot net attacks that use their equipment, among...
Get End User Leads for Just $997 A Month on Aug 31, 2016
Scam or opportunity? As trade mags continue to suffer from the decline of print media, they are scrounging for new ways to make money. Rather than...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Honeywell Sues Alarm.com For Violating Anti-Trust Laws on Feb 24, 2017
Is Alarm.com about to dominate the smart home software market? That is what Honeywell alleges in its new lawsuit, first reported by...
Axis: "Everything is IP" - False on Feb 24, 2017
Axis is congratulating itself, with executive Fredrick Nilsson declaring: "Now the conversion is all done and everything is IP and analog is...
Advertising Like Avigilon at the ISC West Airport on Feb 24, 2017
Avigilon has grabbed a lot of attention over the last few years advertising at the Las Vegas airport when attendees fly in. But how does that...
Artificial Intelligence Robot Assistant (ACTi) on Feb 23, 2017
Has artificial intelligence come to the video surveillance industry? ACTi has released 'SARA' which it bills as an 'AI assistant that brings...
Cutting Costs 70% Using Milestone With HD Analog on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog and enterprise VMSes are often thought of as being on opposite sides of the spectrum, with HD analog best for small jobs due to its low...
Dahua 4K HD Analog Cameras Announced on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog has been gaining popularity (even if Axis hopes otherwise). Last year, HD analog's max resolution doubled from 1080p to 4MP (see our 4MP...
Uniview (UNV) IP Cameras Tested on Feb 22, 2017
"We're #3," in China says Uniview (UNV). While the company significantly trails Hikvision and Dahua in total sales, one notable difference is that...
Glass Doors and Access Control Tutorial on Feb 22, 2017
The biggest challenge for many access control systems are glass doors. Here's what happens when a maglock is improperly installed to an existing...
Exacq Favorability Results on Feb 22, 2017
For years, Exacq has been one of the most frequently favored VMSes in IPVM integrator statistics (e.g., see Favorite VMS Manufacturers...
The Hot RMR Company - Electric Guard Dog on Feb 22, 2017
The financiers at the Barnes Buchanan conference praised a company named 'Electric Guard Dog'. While the name sounds fairly low tech, the money and...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact