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SLCPD: Video recorded by body cameras could be stored for a year

By Andrew Adams | Posted - Jun 27th, 2013 @ 7:59pm


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Salt Lake City — Police are eyeing plans to live stream footage gathered by body cameras worn by officers.

Chief Chris Burbank said some of the cameras are already in use in the field, recording what officers see, do and how they interact with people. Eighty more cameras are expected to arrive at the department in July.

"You have the potential to create a huge mountain of video," Burbank said Thursday.

The majority of the video recorded by the cameras for a year. Burbank said the department intends to be responsible with the video and data it collects and retains.

The policy that will guide the cameras' use will include a "purge schedule."

"One of our biggest responsibilities is how do we then purge that information," Burbank said. "The majority of things will be held for a year's time frame. Some will be a little less than that, some potentially a little more than that."

One example Burbank gave was an ongoing investigation; if a criminal act is captured by video, that footage could be stored until the case is adjudicated. Footage for simpler cases, like an officer pursuing a traffic violation, could be purged more quickly.

Burbank said he sees value in live recording body cams in everything from active shooter situations to crime scene investigations. Detectives as they enter scenes can go back to what they saw as they entered the scene, rather than trying to remember it in notes they write down later.

Marina Lowe, legislative and policy council with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said the department has done a "good job" of trying to craft a policy governing the use of the cameras.

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However, she expressed some reservations. Lowe said the video should be kept for a much shorter period of time - more like 30 to 60 days.

"It starts becoming problematic to keep that data and you introduce the possibility that the data will be used for other purposes," Lowe said.

Lowe said the department's policy should give the public access to the video. If so, she said someone who wants to challenge an officer's actions can also request the tape.

"We would strongly suggest that anytime these new technologies are being deployed that we're looking at our policies to make sure there are limits," Lowe said.

Burbank said he didn't anticipate a significant growth in static cameras within city limits. He said the city operates four surveillance cameras at Pioneer Park and has access to state-controlled traffic cameras. "What I'm more interested in capturing what my officers are involved in," Burbank said.

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