Audio on police vehicle video tapes?

Pretend it’s a Friday night and you’re watching The Universe’s Scariest Police Chases XXII on Fox. Chances are, the scene will go some thing like this:

Cop pulls over car. Cop goes up to car, asks the occupant some questions, maybe asks him to step out of the vehicle etc.

All fine and good, but my question is this: The scene is filmed from an automatic camera mounted on the dashboard or windshield of the police car, yet you can usually hear very clearly the conversation going on outside of the car and 15-20+ feet away. How is that possible? Does the system have some sort of external microphone? Do the cops wear a wireless mic of some sort? Or is it just due to some hi-tech audio manipulation on the part of the Fox folks?

Any of you friendly neighborhood SDMB Boys in Blue familiar with these systems?

Depends on the system. Some cops wear wireless microphones on their uniform that beam back to the camera. Others have small shotgun microphones in front of the windshield (on the outside.)

Cops here all carry little casette recorders. Standard issue. They are small enough to fit in the pocket of their shirts.

Tape recorder where I work.

Clip-on mics for my County guys

I don’t know about the sounds INside the car, but according to someone who had a job editing cop videos for TV shows, the siren sounds, tire squeals and radio traffic, etc. are all dubbed in as needed and rarely come from the same event or time you see on the screen.

This avoids the problem of not capturing the “correct” sounds in real-time. In TV/movies, many sound effects are added or enhanced after filming in a process called “foley.”

In my county, the cops carry at least three microphones. (When a friend of mine became a cop, he said, “I’ve got more gadgets than Batman!”)

  1. Communications radio. Main unit is carried on the belt, with the microphone clipped to the epaulette. When they use these, it is recorded by the central dispatcher.

  2. Tape recorder. This is a small cassette recorder, carried in a pocket or on the belt. They use this to record statements from eyewitnesses.

  3. Most recently, they started carrying a short-range transmitter. If you see what looks like a thick wire poking out from a breast pocket, that’s the microphone. This transmits to the squad car, where it is recorded along with the footage from the video camera.

As musicat says, all the external sounds are added later. This gets very annoying after a while. I am sick of hearing a tire squeal every time a car takes off, or the same smashing sound at every collision. It really bothers the crap out of me. In the academy, we watched a million of these videos uneditted. All you can hear is the officer (who wears a wireless mic) and a high pitched whining interference noise caused by the engine, or something.

BTW, you know the one clip that is always shown on every single police special… the one where the state trooper is writing a ticket and he is all calm and patient while the driver screams and yells and cusses at him… well, they like to say how he must have been the most patient and calm officer ever.
Truth is this:*
The trooper is a total asshole. He had numerous complaints about his treatment of the public. This is why he had a camera installed in his car in the first place! His superior wanted all his traffic stops recorded to make sure he was behaving. In this particular incident, he got the man all pissed off and steaming, then turned on the camera and walked back up there with the ticket so his boss would see how great he was with the public. IIRC, the trooper was even reprimanded for that. It’s funny how not one police program has ever got the facts straight.

*[sup]As told by academy instructor who received a copy of the original tape from the trooper’s department[/sup]

Bear_Nenno said:

"BTW, you know the one clip that is always shown on every single police special… the one where the state trooper is writing a ticket and he is all calm and patient while the driver screams and yells and cusses at him… well, they like to say how he must have been the most patient and calm officer ever.
Truth is this:*
The trooper is a total asshole. He had numerous complaints about his treatment of the public. This is why he had a camera installed in his car in the first place! His superior wanted all his traffic stops recorded to make sure he was behaving. In this particular incident, he got the man all pissed off and steaming, then turned on the camera and walked back up there with the ticket so his boss would see how great he was with the public. IIRC, the trooper was even reprimanded for that. It’s funny how not one police program has ever got the facts straight.

*As told by academy instructor who received a copy of the original tape from the trooper’s department"

I used to work security, and that was an example of how to treat a hostile person. What you said DID eventually come out, IIRC, the trooper got fired for his abusive behavior.

I also heard that was actually the SECOND time he stopped the guy, the first time he was so abusive, the guy got worked up, and the reaction was what you saw on camera, but I don’t know the validity of that story.