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City adding storage for body-camera footage

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One of the Vista model body-worn cameras police began using two years ago. Elizabeth City has added capacity allowing more storage time for body-camera file footage.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

After spending about $52,000, Elizabeth City should have enough room for police footage for years to come, city officials said Tuesday.

Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe Jr. and Information Technology Director Matthew Simpson said the city has added enough storage to cover its data needs for about five years.

The city paid $52,170 to Anthony Peete Electrical Contractor, Inc., of Halifax, for updated video management software and two server storage racks with about 470 terabytes of capacity. Simpson added that the city found that buying its own storage was far cheaper than paying for third-party, cloud-based storage.

The Elizabeth City Police Department needs a lot of storage now for police camera footage, including for body cameras. Each of the city's patrol officers can generate hours of footage daily, which could be hundreds of megabytes. Buffaloe explained the cameras are active during public interactions and while processing incidents, but not during all of an officer's 12-hour shift.

Buffaloe said the ECPD deleted no footage prematurely, and Simpson added the city's old body camera server still had 10 terabytes of storage. The city's body camera policy, last updated in March, requires the ECPD to house body-camera footage for at least 90 days, and longer for footage relevant to citizen complaints or an officer's use of force. (To see the latest body camera policy, see the attachment with the online version of this story.)

Simpson said the contract with Peete also came with an upgrade to the city's Milestone video management software, which had not been updated since 2005. The software helps the city comb through video, based on time-stamps and any “metadata” descriptors attached to the footage.

Buffaloe said officers continue to welcome body cameras, explaining they assist in cases and can help clear up citizen complaints against them.

In a followup interview Thursday, City Manager Rich Olson said the increased server capacity will also allow the city to store surveillance camera footage for at least 30 days, up from 10.

In awarding the body camera contract to Peete, Olson also said the city chose him because he was most familiar with the city's systems.

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