It’s hard to believe, but the use of electronic surveillance as credible in court has been approved of by the justice system—in one form or another—since 1928. There have been some controversies over the appropriateness of when electronic surveillance be used. Still, in general, mechanically recorded evidence, especially of the audio kind, can be valuable evidence in a trial if it has been appropriately obtained.
However, a key component of good evidence is that it is clear and can be understood by laypeople, especially a jury randomly selected for a trial. It’s one thing to claim to have an admission of crime recorded. Still, it’s another thing if that admission, when played back, is so poor in quality that no one can understand it.
Quality Is Everything
One of the biggest challenges that law enforcement faces in the undercover or surveillance police work is the clash between quality and visibility. There is plenty of high-quality audio recording equipment available on the market. With proper placement, any of these products are capable of recording clear, sharp, easily distinguished audio.
However, because the emphasis is on function, not form, this also means this equipment is typically highly visible, and often large. This runs counter to the need for low visibility, as audio surveillance implies the subject is unaware that what is being spoken is being recorded, and is thus speaking freely.
Miniaturization To The Rescue
Fortunately, technology has, over the decades, continued to innovate, especially in areas like miniaturization and transmission. Audio surveillance microphones can be tiny, and can be used for a variety of purposes, whether that is worn on the person of a law enforcement officer, or hidden in an object or some part of a room.
Another innovation with today’s audio surveillance equipment is that these devices can transmit their audio, and do so wirelessly. While radio transmission is still one way to broadcast wirelessly, digital communication is now also available, with a different set of strengths and limitations for handling interference.
Don’t Take Chances
With audio evidence, what matters most is clarity. The sensitivity of microphones is essential, especially if the receiver is hidden under clothing, or positioned at a distance. If the speech being recorded isn’t reasonably clear, arguments can be made about what a was said, and badly garbled audio may not stand up to the scrutiny of admission in court.
It’s essential when considering audio surveillance equipment to prepare for a variety of different needs. Fixed audio in a room must have excellent sensitivity, but must also be unobtrusive enough to be hidden. Cameras worn on officers or other participants must have a certain level of flexibility and comfort, in addition to being able to record speech at an acceptable level of quality. This is why all law enforcement groups need to have the foresight of versatility and maintain a range of audio surveillance equipment for different situations.
If you’re looking for audio surveillance equipment that can be worn or discreetly installed, we can help. Contact Supercircuits, and let us know what situations you need to address.