Digital video provides a myriad of benefits, but the amount of it can be overwhelming. What can law enforcement agencies do to not only store this data, but ensure that it’s accessible and useful as needed? Let’s take a look at some of the wrinkles that are arising, as well as potential archiving, security and search solutions.
Body cams, car cams, and interview room cameras create an incredible amount of data. Terabytes? Petabytes? The scale of these measurements is difficult to even comprehend. States are beginning to implement laws that address the handling and release of all this video, and of course every state must already comply with FOIA requests.
However, producing video to comply with these laws is not as simple as it seems to outside observers, and a delay can be incorrectly read as avoidance. In truth, police have a responsibility to protect the identities of minors, victims, witnesses who may be at risk, and undercover police officers. Concealing the identities of these people, when captured on the video in question, can be time-consuming and complex.
And what happens if you lose track of specific footage? If you can’t comply with a request for a given video, it can create the implication of wrongdoing, when really you’re just suffering from poor archiving.
To add yet another wrinkle, not all the footage law enforcement deals with comes from their own cameras. In the case of a critical incident, videos are submitted from various passive surveillance cameras, witnesses’ phones or cameras, and so on. These files arrive in many different formats. Files may be compressed, or not. Importing and converting all this raw footage into a usable tool in an investigation is a challenge.
All this has led law enforcement officials to move toward having certified police archivists to handle the tremendous influx of data. An archivist can also be your point person when it comes to security. In situations where you’re using a central evidence vault and interview management system like ours, they can build out custom reports for you, as well. Using a secure data storage solution and certified personnel, you can ensure that there aren’t any chain-of-custody issues that call the validity of your video footage into question when you really need it.
In addition, there are some very useful software solutions being developed that can be used in tandem with secure storage and interview management. Some use facial recognition software to simplify the job of blurring the faces of protected witnesses throughout a video. Others sift through passive surveillance footage looking for moments of activity, and create an easily accessible compilation of those incidents. Video archivists should be empowered to learn these new tools, and leverage them to benefit your agency.
The primary goal for departments employing video footage should be to archive it diligently now to avoid problems later. Using a well-regarded storage solution and trained personnel, you can reduce headaches and feel confident that when a request does come, you’ll have the tools you need to handle the situation like seasoned pros.