Protect and serve

This article was written to describe the main usage of IT equipment installed in police vehicles at first.  But finally, wider significance of the system was proved – it not only recorded the aggressive driving that threatened people in the car, police officers and other road users but also shown an inadequate behavior of the police officers on duty.

The Real Case

On August 2, 2016, at about 1:10 pm in Trnava, Slovakia PMJ patrol noticed, suspicious driving and dramatic acceleration of a Fiat Brava vehicle.

Police officers tried to stop the car, but the driver did not respond to their repeated calls. Finally, when the car stopped for a little while and the police officer wanted to inspect driver, she locked herself up in the car, closed the windows and tried driving directly at the police officer who had to jump away to avoid being injured. The police officer took out a gun and fired one shot into the rear bumper. Patrol was forced to use warning shots into the air and shoot the rear tires.

After more than a 18-kilometer car chase and repeated shots, the car stopped in a nearby village.

The Camera is watching you

All four car passengers, including the driver, were women. The one who presented risky and dangerous driving which threatened not only the passengers, but also other road users, drove without a driving licence

During the police chase, the driver was seriously injured, she suffered chest and ear injuries as a result of the police shots. Co-passenger was shoot to the shoulders.

During the inspection of the car police officers found narcotics and there was a suspicion that the driver was under their influence. Police used 19 warning shots into the air and 13 shots to the car. The car had number plates, belonging to a different vehicle.

For evidence, recordings from police car surveillance and automatic number plate recognition system were used.

Normally, the story would end here, with a criminal complaint for assaulting the public official. However, the cameras in the police car were on during driver detention and the records showed unlawful use of force and coercive means by police officers.

Based on the video recording, the Inspection body of the Ministry of Interior opened a criminal investigation against police officers, with the aim to investigate whether the intervention of law enforcers was adequate. Police officers on duty were temporarily transferred to other departments, without any contact with citizens. The final result says, they will be released from the duty, indicted and punished – all based on the video material.

Slovak police slogan “protect and serve” can be explained in different ways and as usually the weakest part is the human factor. The technology works for everyone whether you are police officers or citizens.

Pavel Palasthy