The advancement of technology, especially video recording devices that can be used in all situations by different people, has changed how many people view the world. They take videos to record their actions and any fun things they might be involved in, but they also use it to document bad or destructive behaviors. Law enforcement has been using videos for a variety of different reasons, and people might ask: how long do police keep dash cam videos ?
When it comes to the question how long do police keep dash cam videos, the answer is that it depends on the state and if the video is being used as evidence. In most instances, video from dash cameras or body-worn devices that aren’t used in court only have to be retained for 180 days.
It is recommended that videos be kept for 30 months from the date of the recording when they are related to vehicular accidents, detainments, arrests, use of force, criminal investigations, or pending litigations. For videos that are related to commenced litigation, these are generally kept until adjudication.
Why Aren’t Dash Cam Videos Kept Indefinitely?
With the advancements of technology and the ability to store data on the cloud, you would think when asking how long do police keep dash cam videos that the answer should be they are kept until the end of time. While this seems like it should be possible, it’s actually quite problematic.
Dash cam videos can be incredibly useful in many ways, including capturing events that happened at the scene so they can be used in court to help convict or set the defendant free. They can also be used to show if the officer is acting appropriately. However, they can also show an officer just doing their duty and going through their day. It’s possible that nothing or very little happens while officers are on shift: in fact, the majority of footage will be of this type. Keeping all this is simply a waste of space.
It’s also important to think about how many officers have dash cams or even cameras they wear on their body. Finding a way to store all of this data and keep it for extended periods of time isn’t feasible. Since most departments are funded by state and tax dollars, this money can be better spent on different resources and programs instead of storing video that won’t be used in the future.
How Do Dash Cams Work?
There are many different types of dash cams that departments can consider putting in their cruisers. These systems are different from the cameras that citizens can buy to put into their cars. They are often integrated with the other systems in the car, including the light-bar system and the brake light indicators. They can also incorporate the radar gun.
Precisely when an officer needs to start recording will be determined by the department and any state or city laws or regulations that have been put into place. In many cases, the video recorder has to be manually activated, which means that the officer is in charge of turning the camera on.
The video systems also have the ability to use event tags, which can be customized to fit the needs of each department. These tags can include things such as “DUI” or “Warrant” or any other tag that may be necessary to indicate the type of stop that is occurring.
How Dash Cam Systems Are Chosen?
In addition to asking how long do police keep dash cam videos, it’s also important to know if they actually have the systems in place and what kind they are. Every department has different needs, and each department needs dash cameras that will work for them. One of the overarching criteria needed for a camera is that it be durable.
The camera also has to be able to run as often as needed, which could include up to 24 hours a day every day of the year. It will need a storage system where the videos are kept until they are no longer needed. When it comes to data storage, the department needs to decide if they are going to have a hard drive or DVR unit or if the footage should be wirelessly uploaded to a storage server.
All of these have an impact on price. Again, since most departments have limited budgets, they may not be able to get the most up-to-date dash cameras available. Thus, they have to work with what they can get. As mentioned, they may also not be required to record every incident that they encounter.
Who Has Access to Dash Cam Videos?
In addition to asking how long do police keep dash cam videos, you might also be wondering if everyone has access to those videos. The answer to this question is that it depends. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that police departments do not need to release dash cam videos if they pertain to criminal investigations. Unless an officer uses deadly force, those videos may not ever be seen by the general public.
Each state has the ability to set their own rules and standards when it comes to releasing dash cam videos to the public, so they may decide to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling or create their own rules and regulations. Videos also do not fall under the state’s open public records law, which means that most requests to see dash cam footage or body cam footage will more than likely be denied.
What Are the Benefits of Having Dash Cam Videos?
Having dash cam videos has had an impact on police officers and how they do their job. In many cases, it keeps them in line and performing their duties the way they are supposed to. If they know the video can show them being less than professional, this can have a huge impact on their career and how they are perceived by the public. Dash cams can also keep officers safe, since nearly everyone reacts in the same way when they see a camera: they shape up and think twice about using violence.
One of the most recent uses of dash cam and body cam footage has been to determine if officers acted appropriately in certain situations, especially when deadly force has been used. Police officers are still human, and they can make mistakes. They are also not above the law. Thus, being able to determine if the acted appropriately is beneficial. If they didn’t, then being punished for their crimes is necessary.
In addition, dash cam videos can make it easier to convict criminals of crimes because there is evidence that they committed said crime. The video can also help exonerate those falsely accused of committing crimes. However, whether the video is admissible in court as evidence will be determined by the judge.
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Police officers have a tough job. They are tasked with keeping the peace so society can function. On a daily basis they encounter a wide range of people, including those who don’t obey the laws. In most cases, they don’t know who is who, so they can’t tell who is a criminal and who is an ordinary citizen until something happens.
Dash cams have had an impact on how officers do their jobs, and they have impacted how both officers interact with the public and whether or not they’ll get convictions. When asking how long do police keep dash cam videos, the answer is that it depends on the state’s rules and regulations and if the footage is being used in an investigation or as evidence. What isn’t a question is that dash cams are very helpful.