A new dashcam being used by a team of volunteers with Whangārei Community Patrol has proved its worth on the first night of operation with one person arrested for disorderly behaviour.
The patrols act as eyes and ears for the police by patrolling residential, business and industrial areas around the city.
A tech upgrade in the from of the latest dashcam has boosted the patrols' capabilities. They have the latest MiVue860 dashcam with high definition front and rear cameras, GPS tracking, Sony low light sensor, and wi-fi, donated by Navman GPS.
In use for the first time on Guy Fawkes night last month it resulted in a successful arrest.
Patroller Adam Young said there was some disorderly behaviour around the city on the night.
"Police were unable to immediately respond to reports of disorder at an important local tourism location, so they tasked the Community Patrol to assess the situation," Young said.
The job of the patrols was to observe and report to police if a situation got out of hand.
"Normally we arrive on scene and things just break up once they realise we are watching, but the situation got quite serious this time and we contacted the police. Fortunately the whole incident was caught in crystal clear footage," he said.
Traditionally after an incident takes place the Community Patrol submits a report to police.
However, if an offender denies wrongdoing, depending on the situation, laying charges was not always straightforward.
"In this case we were 100 metres away and we could still make out what was going on in the footage and who was making the trouble. Police said the footage was conclusive and in the end there was an arrest," Young said.
The new camera allows the patrollers to connect to their smartphone with wi-fi and instantly share footage.
Sergeant James Calvert from the Whangarei Area Prevention Team said they are always interested in receiving footage from the public.
"It is absolutely vital the police and the community at large co-operate to prevent and solve crime. Without that co-operation and information flow the police could not function," he said.
"While a description of how an offender assaulted someone can tell a story, the video of it happening is far more compelling and can show lots of other details including facial expressions, determination, or how hard someone may have punched."
Dashcam footage has become extremely popular on social media with Facebook communities and websites dedicated to uploading the daily debacles occurring on Kiwi roads, but police can't monitor everything.
"The social media universe is enormous and only getting bigger. Just like the real world, police are active in this space but cannot monitor everything all the time. If people are aware of footage showing offending on the internet then please let us know, just like any other crime," Calvert said.
Young believes having the new high tech camera will make the job of patrolling easier.
"The camera doesn't lie. Situations move so fast that you can't always remember everything, but looking over the footage again you might recall an extra bit of information that proves useful. Because of the quality of the footage, on this occasion we may not even have to attend court to give evidence."
Young began working for the Whangarei Community Patrol six years ago after he was attacked at a service station and decided he wanted to help prevent these types of incidents in his community.
"Everyone has a role to play. If you see something suspicious, ring police even if it's a small thing. They would rather investigate than allow something bad to happen. Even if turns out to be a non-event, they just like to know."