See Seattle Police’s blog post: Police and Seattle IT Working to Address July Dashcam Data Loss I got alerted to a press conference call that I attended.
Seattle Police’s in-car video system has been the source of major headaches for the department. In 2011 KOMO TV reported that thousands of videos disappeared. According to CrossCut there 30,000 instances of frames being dropped from videos since other outlets reported the problem was fixed. Then there’s the pre-mature illegal destruction of optional fail-safe/pre-event video that the department has not acknowledged on its blog. On top of this the department has lost two major court cases over access to in-car video. Things are so bad that the monitoring team requires all video to be retained infinitely. Now it has been disclosed by the department that videos were deleted from an temporary storage space prior to them being copied to long term storage. I’m aware of internal affairs case 2015OPA-0768, see the files on Dropbox, where a shift’s worth of videos for one officer where lost. The system doesn’t notify the car not to destory the backups of those videos.
On a conference call SPD explained that it waited for all the facts before disclosing this issue which is contrary to how it handles officer involved shootings and other incidents still under investigation. What this case demonstrates is that SPD does not have all systems in place to ensure that criminal case evidence is retained either before upload to server or after.
According to a press conference SPD became aware of the issue on July 17 and waited until August 30 to do a last minute press conference/disclosure on the issue. Chief O’Toole said they do not give out info about active investigations which is untrue. They routinely tell people on their blog that stuff has happened before the investigation is over. The Chief also said the public wouldn’t care if this was a data destruction failure elsewhere in the city. They would care because if emails get destoryed that screws things up when trying to figure out what a citizen complained about and there’s essential infomation put in emails that employees look up.
The bottom line here is in-car video is a sh*t show and we in the media must uncover as much information about it.