A decision to save surveillance video of Freddie Gray’s arrest and the subsequent unrest in the city has significantly reduced the storage capacity of some cameras on Baltimore’s closed-circuit system — shrinking the window during which police may flag footage to help with criminal investigations.
Capacity on some of the city’s 700 CitiWatch cameras has been reduced from 28 days to three, meaning footage of any illegal activity is wiped clean after 72 hours unless a police officer shows up to save it, city officials said. The capacity of other cameras has been reduced to a lesser degree.
City attorneys made the decision to save the footage because it could prove critical in future litigation related to Gray’s death or the crimes committed during the unrest, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
Spokesman Kevin Harris said the intention was “to make sure that all records pertaining to the entirety of the Freddie Gray incident are preserved.”
Harris said officials examined all options to avoid interfering with CCTV surveillance or violating regulatory requirements and decided that cutting the capacity on some cameras was the best choice.
Other options, such as copying the information onto external hard drives or saving to a cloud-based storage system, were not feasible, he said, in part because they would involve temporarily stopping the cameras from recording, “potentially leaving a blind spot in the crime fight.”
Harris said the city plans to spend $140,000 on new hardware for long-term storage. The city does not know when the new hardware will be in place, he said, but Rawlings-Blake “has ordered that all red tape be cut to expedite the process as quickly as possible.”
Police have relied on CCTV footage to make arrests in more than 1,000 cases a year, according to data kept by the city.
Click here to continue reading…
SOURCE: Kevin Rector
The Baltimore Sun