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Video Retention Requirements: Law Enforcement

In recent years, a growing number of incidents in the law enforcement industry has led to stricter video surveillance and retention requirements. Wondering how you can keep up and stay compliant?  Here’s what you need to know about video retention requirements for law enforcement.

Body camera video retention

Body camera footage is key to resolving incidents in law enforcement. However, it can be challenging to stay compliant because surveillance and retention requirements can vary from department to department. When it comes to retention, there are usually specific guidelines for how long to store video and what types of incidents may require a longer retention period.

In the introductory post for this series, we took a look at requirements from the Georgia Municipal Association. In this area, video recordings from body-worn devices or inside of law enforcement vehicles need to be retained for 180 days.

The NYPD also has very strict requirements when it comes to video recording and retention. They retain all recordings from body cameras for 18 months. In addition to that, body camera footage of significant incidents and arrests are retained even longer.

Almost every state has specific video retention requirements and these requirements can change quickly. This is why it’s critical to use up-to-date technology that can adapt to changes.

Video retention in jails

Strict video system standards are also common for correctional facilities. While these may be different across the country, compliance with these standards is critical. They play a big role in maintaining safety for both the inmates and law enforcement inside jails.

For example, we can look at the “General Records Retention Schedule” adopted by the State of Washington. This schedule specifies that security recordings of agency facilities and grounds be retained as an official copy for a period of 30-days. However, in California the requirements are different. In this state, video recordings from jails are destroyed after one year.

Despite these differences, most states share one thing in common. Video recordings must be retained if there is a request to use the footage as evidence during litigation. To understand what the specific requirements are for your area, you should review the local government code for video surveillance, retention, and destruction of city records.

PREA requirements

Video is also an important tool for organizations during PREA audits. According to the National PREA Resource Center, all documentation must be preserved while making a determination:

“The auditor shall retain and preserve all documentation (including video tapes) relied upon in making audit determinations. Such documentation shall be provided to the Department of Justice upon request.”

Similar to when a longer retention period may be required during litigation, in the event of an audit, law enforcement personnel may be required to present video recordings.

How to ensure video retention compliance in law enforcement

Do you need a better way to manage video surveillance and retention? Using the right technology can make law enforcement video retention simple. For example, a VMS retention report can help you keep track of all the cameras you manage via Milestone XProtect in your police department, jail or prison.

If you want to continue learning about video retention and compliance in other industries, keep an eye on our blog.