“Black Lives Matter” Pushes Forward the Body-Camera Cloud

  • Oakland – Building the Body-Camera Cloud
  • Why Body Cameras?
  • Why Cloud Storage?
  • Everyday Compliance with Body Cameras
  • The Obvious Choice

Oakland – Building the Body-Camera Cloud

Oakland is one of the primary strongholds of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The civil rights project started in response to a pair of grand jury decisions in New York and Missouri to let police officers walk after two black police deaths were captured on video and distributed online. Most recently, 80 to 100 protesters shut down the northbound lanes of Interstate 80 as part of a coordinated, nationwide response to the death of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man shot by white police officer Michael Slager in South Carolina.

Now, many police officers are good people and aren’t out to get anyone. My cousin is a police officer in Colorado, for instance. I also have family serving in the Ohio State Highway Patrol. But clearly, accountability is needed.

One change that many believe could help improve accountability among police officers, as well as exonerate those unfairly accused of wrongdoing, is body cameras. In other words, we have technology that prohibits people from misleading us on either side, so why don’t we use it? Oakland is actually one of the cities at the forefront of the transition to body cameras for greater collection of evidence and monitoring of law enforcement.

The Oakland Police Department is currently testing out a cloud storage solution that can serve as an archives for the office so that the city isn’t buried under an avalanche of on-site video.

Why Body Cameras?

Body cameras have become more prevalent in 2015 as the Black Lives Matter efforts continue in response to news of additional, questionable black deaths. In December 2014, President Barack Obama requested funding from Congress for 50,000 body cameras to be used by police departments around the country.

According to Dave Burke, a police officer in Oakland, the city’s PD said that body cameras are helpful not just to gauge the behavior of officers but of people being arrested as well.

Former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said that the police department was awash in more than 2200 complaints of excessive force in 2009. In 2014, however, with more than 600 body cameras in operation, those complaints plummeted to 572. The statistics suggest that three out of every four incidents of reported police violence (74%) are being prevented by simply turning on cameras. Another stat is similarly compelling: before body cameras, the Oakland Police was involved with an average of eight shootings annually. Last year, that number was zero.

Why Cloud Storage?

Think about walking around all day with a camera capturing everything that you do. Now imagine everyone on your workforce having the same technology that feeds in their own shift-long perspectival shots. What we are talking about is a huge amount of data. In fact, 12 months of video from just one camera can be in the terabyte range (in other words, thousands of gigabytes).

Cloud storage could offer a cost-effective method to make it easy to stow away and easily retrieve videos as needed. However, public cloud typically doesn’t have the security mechanisms to meet the requirements of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division – which is necessary to allow police departments around the country to log onto the federal agency’s system.

Now, cloud providers are starting to step forward to meet this growing demand so that law enforcement offices around the country are able to prove their security.

Cloud systems can be extraordinarily helpful to police departments so that they have a robust way to immediately access distinct portions of their video libraries.

“It cuts down on time and also aids in investigations, crime trends and analytics,” explained the Oakland PD’s Burkel.

Everyday Compliance with Body Cameras

How about this scenario: A police officer goes to a hospital to collect information related to possible child abuse of a young boy. She talks to the boy, the physicians treating her, an official from the school, and the mother and father. The conversations range from classroom behavior to a potential pattern of abuse to IRS wage garnishment that’s removing funds directly from the father’s paycheck. Essentially, the officer is gathering as much information as she can so that the responsible parent can be arrested and face an airtight, evidence-rich effort from the prosecution.

If the officer is wearing a body camera, video must meet the parameters of numerous laws enacted at various levels of government.

“If that video is not properly stored, managed or disclosed,” argued Government Technology, “its value to the investigation can be compromised, which in turn can have devastating consequences for the people involved in the case.”

The Obvious Choice

Not everyone is gung ho about security cameras. Lynne Martinez, president of the ACLU branch in Lansing, Michigan, commented, “We must make sure these cameras don’t violate the rights of victims and are anxious to have a conversation about that.”

However, most people view body cameras as a necessary evil – and the decrease in force complaints at Oakland PD back up that perspective.

In terms of storage, cloud is the obvious choice – fast, accessible, and affordable – for the massive amount of data generated by body cameras. However, police departments must consider compliance with stringent security rules.

Just as cloud is the obvious choice for police video storage, we want to be your obvious choice for cloud. Our compliance audits and certifications are wide-ranging. Talk to us today about crafting a solution to meet your needs.

By Kent Roberts

Image via Wikipedia

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