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West Columbia Police Fight Domestic Violence with Technology

Officers will use electronic voice translators and undercover audio and video equipment that will help combat domestic violence.

(West Columbia) The West Columbia Police Department is using new technology to fight domestic violence.

With a grant funded by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety's Violence Against Women Project, the police department purchased electronic voice translators and undercover audio and video equipment that they hope will make a difference in their response to domestic violence.

Officers say the electronic voice translators are able to enhance communication between officers and victims in multiple languages. Similar to a handheld PDA, officers can choose from pre-programmed phrases or add unique phrases that they need in order to better investigate domestic violence cases.

According to Chief Dennis Tyndall, the West Columbia area's non-English speaking population has increased dramatically in recent years.

Officers who are hampered by language barriers will be able to use the devices to give directions, ask questions, and determine identity and other relevant information with non-English speaking people.

Tyndall said the devices allow officers to either speak a phrase in English or use a stylus to select a phrase. The translator then speaks to the victim, witness or suspect in their native language. Tyndall said the devices have been used predominantly with Hispanic cases although other languages including Chinese, Russian, and Farsi are also available.

The police department has also purchased wearable body microphones and cameras that officers can use while on patrol. They say the officer can push a button on the device and begin recording from the moment he exits his patrol car.

The equipment will record everything the officer sees and hears as he approaches the scene, while he is investigating and talking to victims, suspects and witnesses, and even while a perpetrator is being transported to the detention center.

Chief Tyndall stated, "So many times a domestic violence case relies solely on the testimony of a police officer. With this new technology, a judge or jury can actually witness what occurred at the scene of the crime. We feel this will give the court a better record of what actually occurred."

Posted by James Gilbert


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