By Amanda Creech
The Interim Study Committee on Government started the discussion Wednesday on the benefits and ramifications of providing the state’s law enforcement with body cameras.
Jim Corridan, Indiana state archivist, said putting body cameras on law enforcement in Indiana could be a costly move. He said the oversight committee adopted a regulation last spring that would require body camera and other video to be retained for thirty days if it has no evidentiary value.
“It’s important that we have to set some parameters for how long video should be stored,” Corridan said. “There’s an example from the city of Oakland, California. They have 770 officers who have body cameras. Every month they are generating seven terabytes worth of data on a monthly basis. The expense of that would be a large number.”
He said the office of technology in Indiana charges state agencies $1.18 for every gigabyte. There are more than 1,000 gigabytes in a terabyte. He said cloud storage offered by Amazon only charges a penny per gigabyte but then there is the issue of security.
“It might be at some point that the House and the Senate want to describe what is an acceptable standard for storage of the state as far as the storage of that data and the integrity of that data,” Corridan said.
Another issue brought up by Luke Britt, public access counselor, is the rising number of requests for public record access.
“The number of inquiries that we’ve received in the public access counselor office has tripled since 2012,” Britt said. “Law enforcement is one of the preeminent topics when it comes to public access requests. About 40 percent of all of the inquiries we get are related to law enforcement. When it comes to public access, law enforcement and that access is definitely one of the dominant factors in what I deal with on an ongoing basis.”
Britt said any kind of recorded material – such as footage seen from body cameras – would be considered public record. But he also said law enforcement could label the body camera footage as an “investigatory record.”
“If we’re evaluating the subject of body-worn cameras and we do categorize them as investigatory record, we may be looking at a scenario where law enforcement could potentially, under the current statute, indefinitely withhold that which sometimes can be a good thing, but sometimes may compromise public access,” Britt said.
He said there should be some type of guideline for body camera footage and public access.
“There aren’t many parameters and guidelines and it’s my hope that this committee would explore that issue in dealing with what that would look like,” he said.
Rep. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said there has to be some way to find a happy medium concerning the cost of storage for footage and the cost of body cameras, but also a happy medium for public access to the footage.
“We have to make a decision on how to protect the public and how to protect law enforcement,” Taylor said.
Law enforcement will be on hand to testify during the Sept. 22 meeting, but Indiana State Police Sgt. Brad Hoffeditz spoke about the hundreds of calls his agency receives for public record requests. He said part of his job is to go through these requests.
“It’s a significant burden as it stands right now,” he said.
Amanda Creech is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.