Police in the ACT have leap-frogged other jurisdictions by fitting all traffic operations cars with near-360 degree coverage, storing the encrypted footage on board the car or potentially live-feeding it back to the operations centre in Belconnen.
The cameras are also linked to the police number plate recognition system so any screened car to the front, side or rear which is out of registration or has an alert connected with it, will be detected in high definition.
Canberra's police, which are contracted to the ACT from the federal police, were the first in Australia to use number plate recognition in 2003.
However, as the technology quickly accelerated the ACT was left behind as its simple forward-facing one-lens system captured just the plate and not the car to which it was attached.
Now, as often occurs, the ACT has grabbed the latest technology available and will custom-fit it to all 15 traffic operations cars including five new high-performance black VW Passat R-Line wagons which are due to join the road safety operations team next month.
Police Minister Mick Gentleman said the technology will bring a significant improvement in officer safety.
"Being able to detect unregistered cars and drivers more quickly makes Canberra’s roads safer," he said.
"Drivers will spend less time waiting at random breath testing sites, enabling police to test more drivers."
One of the long-running bugbears for Canberra's police has been the lack of live situational awareness for major events with the operational commander usually having to rely on radio reports, rather than being able to see what's happening in real time.
A traffic car now can be parked in a strategic location at a major event and the multiple camera feed delivered straight into the police operations centre in Belconnen.
Sergeant Marcus Boorman, a 30-year police veteran who heads up the road safety operations team, said the video system continually back-captures the previous two minutes so those drivers who react at seeing the police car by dropping their phone and then denying any wrongdoing, the video evidence is already in the system.
"There's also those situations where you pull up a car at night and there's four guys in the car you stopped, and you have that feeling that something's not quite right," he said.
"Back in operations, they can see exactly what's going on. When you're out on your own, that's reassuring."
The number plate detection system is constantly running as the police car rolls through an intersection, with every facing plate scanned.
"With 15 cars on the road, the new system will be scanning thousands more plates. That's a great result for improving road safety by picking up more disqualified drivers and unregistered cars."
Ironically, the first police car in Canberra to be fitted with the system is one of the final V8 "police pack" Commodore sedans produced at the now-decommissioned Holden factory in South Australia.