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Protecting Your Law Enforcement Body Camera Recordings

[rev_slider Digital-Surveillance]
Learn why the growing adoption of body-worn cameras for police officers is placing significant demands on their archive storage systems.

A variety of factors are combining to drive enormous growth in the deployment of body-worn cameras (BWCs) by law enforcement agencies. Increased funding for such cameras (for example, state and federal grants) has become more readily available in response to growing calls for more transparency in the operations of law enforcement agencies. Body-worn cameras significantly increase such transparency, thus serving to enhance relations and trust with the local community and shield a department’s officers from false accusations of misconduct.

Police body cameras perform more conventional functions of video surveillance equipment (collecting evidence for trial, recording victim interviews, etc.). Offering wide flexibility and more affordability with the prices dropping considerably in the past few years, BWCs now occupy a central place in the budgetary planning of many police departments. But it’s important to remember that these cameras represent only one facet of a complete video surveillance solution.

BWCs are an addition to other video surveillance that has been used by many with in-car video, photos of scenes and public video surveillance. The video from these devices along with the images and photos that may be transferred to the police from third parties have the potential to be evidentiary data and must be stored and managed as such.


Video and digital images are exceptionally heavy users of storage space and the guidelines around managing the evidentiary data is key to it being recognized as a valuable source by the criminal justice system. Planning your data storage strategy is a key element of formulating an overall digital evidential plan. Only then can you compile a complete picture of the costs, personnel requirements and policy standards that deploying an effective BWC and video surveillance solution will entail.

The most obvious data storage requirement is sufficient capacity; as utilization of body cameras and other surveillance video grows, the amount of requisite capacity can rapidly expand. For example, if a department has 200 officers and each activates his/her camera for only one hour per shift (a very conservative estimate), the amount of video data to be archived each year would reach 33TB. This figure can quickly escalate; as the number of officers equipped with cameras increases, and the number of hours per day that each camera is activated grows, the sheer quantity of video data that must be archived may increase by orders of magnitude. Thus any archive storage solution you consider must have the scalability to easily and cost-effectively add capacity as needed.

Impact of Retention Rules

In addition to the daunting amount of archive storage capacity that evidentiary videos and images consume, police departments and other law enforcement agencies must also address the retention requirements that govern how long video surveillance and images must be stored. These requirements are often dictated by state or federal laws that detail retention periods for official records.

Storage capacity needs (and costs) obviously increase the longer surveillance videos are retained; ideally, video should be stored no longer than required by law. Archive solutions that incorporate policy-based rules for data retention help police departments to significantly boost their storage efficiency by automatically keeping all surveillance videos only for their legally-mandated retention period—after which the archive storage system disposes of the records based on the policy configurations.

Stringent Security Requirements

The U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence (CFR 28, 29) encompass an extensive range of requirements for the protection of evidentiary data in order to ensure its admissibility in court. The evidentiary weight of surveillance video can also be compromised by improper and/or unregulated data handling practices. What’s more, privacy concerns dictate that BWC videos (often containing footage from inside citizens’ homes and businesses) be securely stored, and that they be securely deleted once they no longer have evidentiary value.

To meet these requirements, an archive storage solution must be able to maintain a clear chain of custody for video footage and images — from its initial ingestion into the archive all the way through to its long-term retention (using policy-based rules to meet regulatory requirements for data handling).

Digital Chain of Custody

A digital chain of custody must provide the following proof:

  • Any digital evidence offered in court is the same evidence collected or received by law enforcement
  • The time and date the evidence was received or transferred to another provider is accurately retained
  • No tampering with the item occurred while it was in custody
  • All copies of data no longer needed have been securely destroyed

Recommended Storage Solution

Assureon™ Secure Archive Storage: A full-featured, purpose-built secure archive solution, Assureon offers seamless scalability to accommodate rapid growth in body camera footage and other video surveillance along with a comprehensive suite of data security features to meet strict requirements for file integrity, privacy, compliance and increasingly tighter budgets. Assureon will maximize your videos’ evidentiary weight and admissibility in court. Assureon archive storage systems can house from 3TB to multiple PB of unstructured data. In June 2015, Nexsan Assureon was honored with the “Archiving & Compliance Product of the Year” award in the Storage Awards hosted by Storage Magazine.


City of Bryan: Nexsan Assureon archive storage solution supports law enforcement department’s in-car video program, providing both primary and backup storage – all in the same box.View Case Study