What’s in your GO Bag – Going Digital
Your Principal has a known stalker that has sent letters and threatening emails. You are at a small venue for a public appearance, and suspect that they might show up. You need to remain with your client in a holding room, but what could make life easier is having your advance man record the crowd with a small digital recording device and place it in your hands for review. Not a problem if your kit contains one in your trusty “Go bag”. Using a digital camera or camcorder is a great way to record faces in a crowd to help identify a would-be person of interest. It’s also a useful tool to document the scene of an accident. In fact, the benefits of a compact recording device to the protection agent are numerous.
Let’s talk digital cameras for a second. I’m by NO means a tech expert so I’m not going to try to hit you over the head with specs and jargon. I’m not going to talk ISO or refresh rate or get into the in’s and out’s of megapixels, etc., I encourage you to do your own research as it will benefit you in the long run. What I will talk about is what I find that works for me and how it pertains to the close protection industry.
First and foremost, something is better than nothing when it comes to cameras. If my only choice was one of those cheap disposable cameras, I think I would take that over nothing. Think about it, it’s small and lightweight, fits in the Go bag, and if you find yourself in need of photo documentation: Point. Click. Done.
Moving up the ladder we have to remember for the EP agent portability is everything. Yes, a Cannon 5D takes some great pictures, but are you going to lug that thing with you on every assignment? Technology is always advancing and these days manufacturers make recorders as small as a cell phone, so bigger doesn’t always mean better.
The other major consideration in my mind is battery type. A rechargeable battery would always be my first choice, but Murphy’s Law states when I need to use it, the battery is ALWAYS dead. Sure disposable batteries also have a downside but I know I can at least get away with carrying multiple packs with me. With that in mind, manufacturers like Kodak make some good pocket size digital cameras with the AA battery option along with the recharge option. Best of both worlds.
As with digital cameras, digital camcorders come in many shapes and sizes with an array of features. The main reason for a camcorder is to capture a live action account of the situation. Live video gives a contectual account of what is happening or what is going on, unlike a still picture in which only a single moment in time can be captured. So if you find yourself in court you can see the benefit of a camcorder, right?
As before, the size of the camcorder will dictate whether it’s a good fit for the mission. As it has to co-exist with the rest of your gear, small and compact, wins the day. Something else to keep in mind is the video format. Digital or memory card camcorders are considerably easier to deal with than say a Hi-8 or analog recorder (yes, those still exist). A digital format will allow you to download to your laptop, archive and even email if needed, sometimes with little or no conversion tweaking on your part. This lends itself to speed in the field, which makes it a VERY valuable piece of kit. In my personal opinion, the “Flip” brand of camcorders are great for that. They are small and lightweight with internal memory that sustains up to 2 hours of recording. The cameras are relatively inexpensive and are the essence of “plug & play”. In addition, they come in HD if that’s something you need. All in all a great tool for the toolbox.
With all the manufacturers and feature-packed devices on the market choosing the best one for you can admittedly get a bit overwhelming. Decide what works best for the majority of assignments that you find yourself working and scale up or down from there. Remember my advice in the beginning of the article; something is better then nothing so if your bag does not contain some type of recording device, grab the cheapest thing you can find and lay your foundation.
Stay tuned for the final instalment in this series when I talk about defensive weapons and their role in the “Go Bag”. Until then…
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