In 2008, the Seattle Police Department lost over 100,000 dashcam videos due to a hardware malfunction. At the time, prosecutors were not informed of the incident, though it could have played a role in perhaps hundreds or thousands of cases. According to SeattlePI.com, that’s not the only problem with the cameras affixed to police cruiser dashes.
The issue was discovered as the Department defends itself against a lawsuit from local news source KOMO. KOMO filed suit after they spent more than a year fighting the department to gain access to the department’s dashcam videos and database in an effort to root out “questionable behavior” by police.
Just this week, the city auditor released a report detailing problems within the SPD and their management of dashcam video footage.
According to the auditor’s report, there is “inconsistent documentation about whether videos requested by public disclosure were even found or sent.” Also, after 90 days, the videos are deleted and backed up on a database that is “too difficult to access.” Finally, the cameras can be shut off, preventing recording and delaying uploads.
Since the loss of 105,000 videos in 2008, the system has reportedly been fixed, according the SPD. But it’s still troubling that prosecutors were not notified of the issue back then.
The city auditor says the department needs a better way of tracking recordings, making them easier to access after the 90 day period has passed. The report has also called for improved technology and a “more streamlined public-disclosure process and search system.”
In response to the auditor’s report, SPD released a statement saying that many of the problems found by the city auditor have already been corrected and that the system has been updated.
The statement says, “We agree that storage and retrieval are concerns and we are working on ways to continue to improve upon our system. Equipping our officers with the best in-car video technology available so that they can use it more reliably is a priority for the department.”
Dash cameras can prove helpful to citizens and cops alike. In many cases such footage can show just how things went down at the scene and often how the actual events differ from what’s ultimately reported by police.
If you were pulled over or arrested and video is available, it could help your defense when you are faced with criminal charges. Discussing this kind of evidence with your defense attorney can help you understand your options and just how crucial evidence is in a criminal case.Contact our offices today, whether you are facing charges of DUI or assault, we may be able to help.