City says new $1.5 million video storage system easier to use, less likely to lose data

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The City of Columbus is spending nearly $1.5 million on a new storage system for body camera footage and accessories for the police department’s body worn camera program.

The purchase was approved at the city council meeting May 24.

Officers began wearing body cameras in December, and it is expected 1,400 officers will be outfitted over the next three years.

At the time the department hoped to have the traffic bureau and bicycle units using the cameras by the beginning of summer.

Recent reports of roughly 100,000 files of police cruiser video being inadvertently deleted have raised concerns over how the city will ensure the security of this new system for saving body camera video.

The city will get 1 petabyte (1 PB) of data storage, which is equivalent to 1,000 terabytes.

It is estimated that the human brain’s ability to store memories is equivalent to 2.5 PB in binary data.

The body camera footage will be stored in two physical locations to provide redundancy and avoid any loss of data similar to what was acknowledged earlier this year when an officer inadvertently deleted thousands of hours of video captured by cameras in patrol cars.

Further safeguards against such loss include a checks and balance system of varying levels of accessibility, and supervisor approval requirements.

The videos themselves will be preserved for varying amounts of time.

According to the city, video containing no evidence of a crime will be kept for 90 days; video with evidence of a crime will be kept for slightly more than two years to accommodate court proceedings and appeals; and video containing evidence of certain capital crimes will be preserved permanently.

They say, access by the public to the video will also vary based on current policies, court rulings, a memorandum of understanding with the Fraternal Order of Police, and any future legislation.

City officials are working with lawmakers to develop legislation that could protect citizen’s privacy in some cases. Examples given of such circumstances were; when an officer interacts with a victim of rape; an individual devoid of clothing; or when walking through someone’s home.

The mayor’s body camera initiative is on track and on budget according to the city’s department of Public Safety.

Bike patrol officers are expected to be outfitted with body cameras by the end of June, and will join some traffic and motorcycle officers in their use.

Columbus police have been using body cameras for about six months, and so far things appear to be working out alright according to Assistant Director Cathy Collins.

“The fact that we haven’t heard anything negative is good,” said Collins. “I think it may be adjusting some people’s approach differently, knowing they are being recorded, and the officers are aware they are being recorded as well.”

Because of its superior redundancy and checks and balances, Collins says, the city will eventually transfer all of its dash cam video to the body camera servers.
The system is currently being built and is expected to arrive in a few weeks.

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