A Small Device Making a Big Difference for Police Departments: The Trigger Box

When your officers are on patrol, every second matters, that’s why Getac Video Solutions has developed devices to automate responses during critical events. The VRX-20 DVR can determine when a police vehicle has been in an accident and can trigger cameras to record the seconds leading up to the crash and the response. The Body-Worn Camera can be triggered when a car door opens and the in-car ZeroDark™ HD Camera can automatically turn on when the lightbar is activated. The automatic triggering of solutions allows officers to focus on their job, without being distracted by powering on a camera.

It’s our job at Getac Video to protect and serve you, while you protect and serve others. One small device is crucial to that mission: the Bluetooth trigger box.

What is the trigger box?

“Designed to work with the Body-Worn Camera the main function of the trigger box is to receive input triggers and send out commands,” said Kaleb McDaniel Getac Video Lead Solutions Architect (SA).

The input triggers are activated by actions such as turning on the light bar or a weapon release, according to McDaniel. Once the trigger box device senses the input trigger, it will send out a command through a wireless signal. The commands can be requests to start or stop a recording, depending on the situation. All triggers and commands are set by each police department and are configurable to the department’s needs.

“[The triggers are] any sort of sensor that a client would like to feed into it,” McDaniel said.

Before installation, each trigger box is individually configured to your departments’ requests. Then, the small box is typically mounted in the rear of the vehicle near the VRX-20 DVR. However, it can be installed anywhere including on the equipment tray, in the center console or behind the front seats. Once installed, it doesn’t require any adjustments or attention.

Configurable for Your Department

The trigger box comes with several default settings, which can all be configured to your police departments requirements.

Output Radius

One of those configurable settings is the output radius of the trigger box. The default radius is 40-50 feet plain view of sight; however, it can be increased up to 100 feet or decreased to as little as five feet.

According to McDaniel, there are several reasons clients will weigh the option to change the radius. “Sometimes they decrease the radius so it doesn’t interfere with other officers who might be in the vicinity of them,” McDaniel said. For example, if an officer is in his or her vehicle in the parking lot running a squad check, they don’t want to start everybody’s body camera in the area. Reducing the radius allows the trigger box signal to be sent only to those cameras inside the squad car.

Recording Command Length

Another way to tailor the trigger box to your police force is to select the amount of time you want the trigger box to send commands. The default setting is 30 seconds, which means once a sensor initializes, the box will send out a start recording command and continue sending that command for 30 seconds. That time can increase to two minutes or even five minutes.

One reason for extending the recording command is to trigger other cameras which might join your officer at the scene. So, if an officer turns on their lightbar and heads to a possible burglary, other officers who arrive at the scene would receive the signal from the trigger box to turn on their body-worn cameras, too.

“And” Trigger

Some departments don’t want officers’ body-worn cameras to trigger with just one sensor. That is where the “And” Trigger comes in.

“Some agencies only want your camera triggered if you have both your lights on and your vehicle door open, for example,” said McDaniel. For that to happen, the trigger box requires two triggers to simultaneously engage before sending out a signal.

One Setting Unique to Getac Video

Another configurable option which is wholly unique to Getac Video is the ability for the trigger box to be set in a 1-to-1, 1-to-group or 1-to-all configuration. Competitors who also sell trigger boxes only have the 1-to-all capability.

“We can configure our trigger box to trigger a specific body camera or a specific group of body cameras that have been programmed to communicate with the trigger box,” said McDaniel.

The default setting for Getac Video’s trigger box is 1-to-all, yet that can cause some challenges when one trigger box can start every body-worn camera within the designated radius.

“What we can do, and others can’t, is we can configure this one trigger box to start only day shift officers because this is a day shift car,” he said. “Or, this is a take-home vehicle and I only want this trigger box to start this one body camera because this body camera is assigned to the officer in this car.”

Dozens of departments across the U.S. already use the Getac Video trigger box  as part of their integrated solution including the Huntsville Police Department in Alabama, the Toledo, Ohio Police Department, Casper, Wyoming Police Department, and Amarillo Police Department in Texas. Contact us to learn how to join the ranks of law enforcement departments using the trigger box to automate officer tasks and help keep your officers and the public safe.