LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – The recent police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina has brought the topic of police body cameras back into focus.
Several police departments in Mahoning County have purchased body cameras for their officers to wear, including Goshen Township, Lowellville, New Middletown and the county sheriff’s department. Police chiefs in those departments have praised the early results of those body cameras.
But one question has not come up often in the national wave of body camera purchases: How do police departments store the hundreds of hours of video footage shot by the new cameras?
“If it’s used quite often, we can have up to 24 different videos on each camera,” said Sgt. Ken Goist, who downloads and reviews body camera videos for the New Middletown Police Department.
New Middletown Police purchased a new 3-terabyte external hard drive for the department, but Goist said it is still cluttered. They also had to change their policy on how long they keep non-essential videos that will not be used as evidence.
“Our initial one was up to two years on even non-related cases,” said Sgt. Goist. “So our attorney is changing that to make it 90 days we can hold non-evidence data.”
Lowellville Police receive free online storage from TASER, the company that sold four body cameras to the department.
“If it’s something that’s worth keeping or associated with a case, then we store it on our computer,” said Lowellville Police Chief Ryan Bonacci. “We have a separate file.”
The extra logistics of reviewing and storing videos is worthwhile for the departments.
“It’s nice to go back and watch the films,” said Bonacci. “Maybe there’s something we may have missed the first time with our eyes that the camera caught.”
Officials in New Middletown began enforcing the use of body cameras in late March, but they already approve of the results.
“We’ve had positive feedback from both the patrol division and the citizens that observe the officers wearing the body cameras,” said Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio. “We provide a lot better service to the community and our officers.”