Storage becomes issue with video recordings

BROWNSTOWN

After using body cameras for two years, the Brownstown Police Department has a storage problem.

“This day and age, everything in our department is on video,” Sgt. John Long said. “It’s just a fact of today’s policing.”

The department has only one computer, and officers use laptops in their vehicles.

“What we’ve been doing is putting our body camera videos on our laptops,” Long said. “After just a couple weeks, you’ll fill up a hard drive on a laptop, so it’s not real feasible.”

Long did some research and found TASER International offers a cloud storage service for the body camera videos, called Evidence.com.

He also learned TASER International has offered to replace current body cameras — valued at about $600 apiece — for free with the purchase of the storage service, which costs $3,200 per year.

The Brownstown Town Council approved that quote during Monday’s meeting at Town Hall. That will be paid for through the penalty fund.

Long said several police departments use Evidence.com because it’s less expensive than buying and maintaining a server.

Each of the 13 full-time and reserve officers will have a new camera with 40 gigabytes of video available. Long said reserves would be using them only once a week.

One person in the department will have administrative access to the storage service.

Councilman C.J. Foster asked Long about the warranty of the cameras. He said he was concerned about any additional charges down the road if a camera broke or if there were an overrun of storage capacity.

Long said the cameras carry a one-year warranty, and he doesn’t anticipate officers overrunning storage capacity. A policy will be developed to prevent that from happening.

“We’re not going to keep every video forever,” Long said. “If you get a call for service and it turns out nothing happened, that video you can usually purge in a quicker amount of time. If you make an arrest, by statute, you have to keep that (video) for a certain amount of time.”

The new cameras will offer point-of-view vision since they go above the shoulders, either on the uniform collar, ear or glasses.

The body cameras the department currently uses attach to the the chest of an officer’s uniform. But if they put their arms out in front of them, that blocks the camera.

Chief Tom Hanner said he ran into that problem during a recent felony stop. He said having a camera above the shoulders will be better.

“Let’s say an officer is involved in a pursuit, the in-cars (dash cameras) are really, really nice,” he said. “But if there was ever a question if an officer turned and looked or anything, if we have (a body camera) on the glasses, you’re going to have the movement of the head.”

The police cars will no longer have dash cameras, which Long said cost $6,000.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.