Research Request: Body Camera Video Review / Redaction Procedures and Tools


As part of your membership benefits, the Alliance staff provide research services for local government member submitted requests. Topics can range from pressing issues to emerging trends. This benefit is made possible through our partnership with Arizona State University Marvins Andrews Fellowship

Request Prompt:

Considering the reviewing and redacting of video footage from law enforcement and/or body cameras that may be utilized as part of an investigation and court proceeding is often handled all within the District Attorney Office, but with increased use of technology, this is becoming a large burden. Although software and cloud services exist, the process still requires a human eye and intensive labor time.

How are other organizations and jurisdictions are dealing with this. Perhaps its all in-house, and if so, how are they managing staff capacity? Other firms used or pooling of resoruces? What are some efficient and cost-effective ways to handle body camera video footage review and example from other municipalities.

Synopsis of Findings:

The time-consuming, labor intensive, process of police body-worn camera redaction is a pain point shared by every organization utilizing body cameras. The process is not yet able to be fully automated and remains a heavy burden on individual departments. Outsourcing and automated options exist, but are costly and not yet fool-proof.

Below is an excerpt from communication with Craig Uchida, nationally recognized expert in body camera redaction (recommended by two Arizona State University School of Criminology Faculty):

“Sadly, there is not much out there that will help automate the redaction process for agencies using body-worn cameras. This is a growing problem for many police departments. For the last two years I've been working with colleagues at the LAPD and UCLA to find a solution, but vendors are not there yet. While there are many vendors that are touting their ability to redact, most, if not all of them do not have a solution that will swiftly redact footage. This will continue to be a tedious, time-consuming process. I haven't heard of any agencies that are partnering or pooling resources at this point. Not sure of any creativity either! Most are muddling through.”

Below is a listing potential sources for further investigation along with a few stories of cities taking slightly different approaches to body-worn cameras to address or avoid the problems of redaction for the public.

Potential Sources for Additional Information:

  • Bureau of Justice Affairs Body-Work Camera Toolkit

o Website containing FAQ’s, state-by state resources, videos, etc. >

  • Resources

o Product Category for comparisons – Police Video Redaction Software >

o Article on considerations for redaction software >

o Article on main redaction issues >

  • Third-Party Automation Options (not a comprehensive list)

o Smart Tracker Technology >

o BodyWorn Smart Redaction >

o Case Guard Studio >

Miscellaneous Case Studies / Alternatives / Information

  • Funds available for body camera program enhancement

o The Bureau of Justice Assistance announced a competitive solicitation for law enforcement agencies seeking to establish or enhance BWC Policy and Implementation Programs.

o February 2017 Deadline, but could possibly be repeated >

  • Seattle police hackathon – December 2014

o 80 people—including developers, community members, and law enforcement agents—attended the Seattle Police hackathon. The goal was to work on techniques for redacting items captured in streamed dashboard or body cam video such as people's faces or license plate numbers.

o Seven groups presented redaction tools, each with a different balance of automation and human review. >

  • Tech Options for Third-Party Help

o New York charged requestors (media) for hours of video requested

o Lack of expertise leads to request for third-party help or software >

  • Minnesota Camera Alternative

o Gun-mounted camera instead of body camera, as alternative which would reduce video and therefore redaction requirements >

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