Police Video Camera Challenge: Processing Mountains Of Evidence


As more police agencies equip officers with body cameras, they create problems of their own: how to analyze, process and store the mountains of video each camera generates, the Wall Street Journal reports. Colorado prosecutors spent hours poring over a dozen videos captured by police wearing cameras in an arrest for drunk and disorderly conduct. Larimer County District Attorney Clifford Riedel said his office has been overwhelmed with footage from 60 body cameras the Fort Collins Police Department uses, and will need to hire another technician to sort through it. “There are just huge amounts of data being generated from cameras,” he said. “It used to be that video on a case was the exception. Now it's the rule.”

The movement gained new intensity after the police shooting of a fleeing man in South Carolina. Agencies need policies and personnel to respond to requests from journalists and the public to release video under freedom-of-information requests. “The vast majority of places are still trying to figure this out,” said criminologist Michael White of Arizona State University, who wrote a Justice Department report on body cameras. He estimates that between 4,000 and 6,000 U.S. police departments, out of about 18,000, use body cameras. Officers generally turn them on when stopping a driver or responding to an incident. The cost has given some officials pause, said Lindsay Miller of the Police Executive Research Forum. “The cameras themselves aren't overly expensive, but the years and years of data storage you're going to deal with—that can definitely be cost-prohibitive,” she said.

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