Police video storage setups: Some important considerations (with related video)
GPN checked in with Lieutenant Daniel Zehnder of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to find out about police video storage trends and issues. Zehnder has been with the department for 19 years. He is currently program manager for the department’s body camera group. He is affiliated with the department’s Program Management and Video Bureau.
The Las Vegas police use Axon video equipment with video storage on the Evidence.com cloud setup. The contract, licensing and storage fees are through TASER Corp., and through the firm’s portal in the cloud. Axon is a business unit of Taser International. Below are Lt. Zehnder’s views.
GPN: How many terabytes does the department use to store video?
Daniel Zehnder: Right now we are at a little over 4 terabytes. We’ve got 200 body cameras deployed now; we currently have no dashboard cameras. As we’ve gone through our fielding process, we’ve seen the terabyte storage numbers go up. It’s a hard number to pin down when comparing agencies because of internal procedures and varying laws about video retention. Both of those factors can affect storage levels greatly.
Editor’s note: 1 terabyte = 1,024 gigabytes
GPN: What are your views on police video storage in the cloud compared to storage on local servers?
DZ: You have to weigh the cost-benefit of cloud storage vs. storage on local servers. But in my opinion, as a non-tech person, I think cloud is the way to go, though I have some concerns about security in the cloud. Nothing is non-hackable. I expect there are leaks in any cloud storage system, no matter the department.
In response to your query whether a hacker would get anything of value from breaking into our system and getting our video? —I question the value of that
GPN: Do you have any advice for police/local government on choosing a vendor for police video archive setup that’s tied to police cameras?
DZ: I tell folks you’ve got to have a plan. There are always some debates. Folks tend to fixate on the hardware of a system, and they have to take a step back. Everybody’s in a rush to put body cameras on cops and that could be a very expensive proposition if you fail to do it properly. Because once you start down the road, you can’t go back. You can’t tell the community, ‘OK, we are going to put body cams on our officers. Oh wait, it costs too much—Now we aren’t going to do it.’
That’s just not acceptable, so you really have to have a plan—and you have to put together some smart folks in your department to come up with a plan, and look at how you are going to use these cams in your department. Who’s going to wear them? What are the department’s legal requirements for retention?
GPN: Is there a place for a certified police video archivist in departments? Do we need a certification program for police video archivists?
DZ: Absolutely—in the future, I think something will happen — maybe we’ll have another Ferguson, Mo., and, it’s incumbent on every agency to remind the community that this isn’t like a TV show—you don’t have the cop’s TV or video crew right next to you. The video—it bounces around when the officer is chasing someone. The video doesn’t capture everything.
But if the community doesn’t feel the video is capturing everything it should, or if citizens can’t go back and review the video in a spirit of transparency, police may be mandated by legislation to retain video for indefinite periods of time, and you see this already happening in some places. That’s fine until the bill comes due for the taxpayer. So yes, a certified archivist could provide some of the safeguards needed for securing and protecting police video.
In the video, officials from Microsoft and TASER discuss how the two companies are partnering together to provide secure and compliant cloud video storage for law enforcement.