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Wow. Just handed over two DVDs with captured events to help solve a fatal accident

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:23 am
by davidma
There was a fatal accident on my street recently and I am ashamed to say I slept through it and didn't even discover it until 36 hours later when talking to a neighbor. Upon doing so I immediately checked my security camera which I have out the front window and sure enough it looks like I captured both the victim and the perp to at least some degree. I handed over two DVDs I made for the purpose of handing them over to law enforcement. I used ZM's video export functions and exported them to .avi format. The officer just had me make a written statement and took the videos and thanked me.

Sadly I didn't have my best camera up at the time (a 2K Hikvision). I only had a crappy $40 480p D-Link up with no night vision and in fact it has filtered IR. Worse it was extremely blurry due to the motion. On the bright side though it always stayed in color/day mode (it has no night mode) and you can make out some color due to the street lights which are pretty good. They aren't even 100% sure yet about the perp vehicle color so it's possible this might help. I guess even if I had my good night vision camera up it probably wouldn't help with getting the color whereas there is a possibility that with deep analysis this might.

I spent some time trying to mess with attributes in GIMP in order to clean up the image and the blur. I feel that true pros probably could do it. In any event the video will definitely help them to some degree. I feel there is about a 50% chance my video will ultimately give them enough to help solve the case. It's really change considering that suddenly my little $40 D-link might be helping to solve a fatal hit and run.

I'm not giving out any more info as I just gave the police the footage tonight so they probably won't mess with it until tomorrow. The victim's family and friends is often on the site now doing memorials and I think they are trying to watch to see if the offending vehicle comes back through. This all just happened in the last six hours that I found I had the footage and I'm still debating on whether I should give them a copy too. Part of me thinks I should but the other part thinks I should just let the police handle it and that I did my duty. The officer seemed to suggest that it might be better just keeping quiet about it.

Anyway... wow. Weird feeling and shock is the best way to describe it.

Re: Wow. Just handed over two DVDs with captured events to help solve a fatal accident

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:19 am
by davidma
Well the video ended up being on the news and was released by police. They found the perp after all. It probably wasn't due to my footage although I think I helped them a bit identify the color and it will probably be played at the trial. I'd give a link to the footage but in the police report they publish my name and address so it would mean a total loss of privacy. :cry:

I've since put up my nicest camera at that location and I've tuned it so that the motion barely blurs. I have the exposure set to 1/30 which blurs a little bit. 1/60 would obviously be better but I start to lose a lot of color then due to (obvious) low light at night.

My tips to anyone reading who possibly needs to identify moving cars from their footage would be:

1. Try to minimize the motion blur as much as possible. Usually this means a minimum exposure at night of 1/30- (better 1/60-)

2. If there is any way possible to keep the color, then do it! Having color will help the police A LOT versus something in black and white where the color can pretty much only be guessed. Experiment and you might find as I did that the street lights are enough where the camera does not absolutely have to switch to black and white mode.

3. If it is important (for night identification) you might benefit from two cameras covering the same area. One in black in white and one color. Make one of them have zero motion blur-- you'll probably end up using your B&W camera for this.

In my case if I had set up my current system when this occurred I probably would have been eligible for a reward over $10,000 but more importantly it might have caught the person sooner.