A recent Fresno Bee article discusses an independent audit by a retired federal judge on the City of Fresno’s video policing program. This kind of thorough audit benefits law enforcement and privacy advocates by focusing on ways to improve the process rather than attacking—or ignoring weaknesses in—the process. Privacy and public safety interests are important. Strong use of video policies will properly inform officers and the public of when recording is permitted and for what purposes, balancing the two interests that oftentimes seem at odds.
With many more agencies instituting video policing and providing body cameras to officers, a critical question remains: How long should an agency store recorded law enforcement video footage before destroying it? Several statutes provide for specified retention periods for public records and laws vary widely between and even within states. How long is long enough for criminal and civil investigative purposes, but not so long that privacy concerns again come into play?