San Francisco PD Risks Financial and Transparency Pitfalls for Not Considering Body Camera Video Redaction

Feb 23, 2016, 10:34 ET from Utility

$codeDebug.log("output array of get country targets countryT

ATLANTA, Feb. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The San Francisco Examiner news story dated February 19 raised valid concerns about whether the SFPD body camera RFP arbitrarily excluded qualified bidders. In the opinion of Utility, Inc., a big issue for the protection of San Francisco citizen and police privacy, and police accountability and transparency, is that the RFP did not include consideration of video redaction.   We believe that other cities that did not consider video redaction are finding they have a multi-million dollar cost, privacy, accountability, and transparency problem on their hands. 

"Utility's Generation 2 BodyWorn™ camera and video management system includes our Smart Redaction™ software, where police departments can automatically redact body camera and in-car video in minutes at essentially no additional cost," stated Utility CEO Robert McKeeman.   "Police Departments now can be fully accountable and transparent while protecting the privacy of Citizens and Police Officers.  It is hard to understand why SFPD would not want to at least consider evaluating our Smart Redaction™ and Generation 2 BodyWorn™ video solutions."  

We are informed that the Washington DC Metro police recently selected Taser for their body-worn camera.  However, the Taser 2016 Law Enforcement Technology Report on page 11 states: "Using current editing software, Washington, DC Metropolitan Police estimate that redacting footage from their pilot body-worn video program could take over 1 million hours – or almost 150 years – of work."   The math is remarkable. If you presume a cost of $20 an hour, Washington Metro PD is facing a cost of $20M just to redact pilot video – not to mention video from a full deployment.  The DC Open Government Coalition in May 2015 quoted Metro PD as saying, "the agency lacks the means to protect privacy as it has no efficient method for redacting voluminous digital material."   Washington Metro PD is evidently still looking for a suitable means to redact digital material, because on January 29, 2016 it issued a Request for Information to purchase video redaction services.

We are also informed that in 2015, through New York State's Freedom of Information Law, the NY1 TV station requested a copy of some video from an NYPD body camera video pilot program.  NYPD told NY1 that the TV station would be charged about $36,000 for labor costs to review an edited portion of the police body-worn video.   On January 13, 2016, NY1 filed a lawsuit against NYPD for access to the video, stating "If the NYPD gets its way, the promised 'transparency and accountability' would be contingent upon the willingness of members of the public to pay exorbitant review and redaction fees every time footage is requested.  That cannot be the law."  Utility has made a bona fide offer to NYPD Procurement to use our Smart Redaction™ software to redact all the video requested by NY1 for $1.00, but has not yet received a response.   

Utility believes that the Washington DC Metro PD and New York Police Department episodes may show the very significant privacy, accountability, transparency, and cost risks and problems that SFPD could face if video redaction is ignored in selecting a body  camera video and management solution.  In our opinion, any good faith body-worn camera solution capability and cost evaluation should also include the cost to provide video redaction, if it can be added at all.

"Utility has only ever asked for an open and fair evaluation of its body cameras, video management services, and video redaction software compared to what other vendors offer," stated McKeeman.  "San Francisco political leaders and taxpayers should have the most reliable, secure, and best value body camera solution that protects citizen and police officer privacy while providing police accountability and transparency.  If another vendor truly has a better solution at a lower price for SFPD, so be it.  We welcome open and objective competition." 

The Utility BodyWorn™ Video Solution has been selected by police and corrections departments including the Atlanta Department of Corrections, Bexar County TX, Bowie MD, Decatur GA, Long Beach CA, Lilburn GA, and Marietta GA.  On January 26, 2016 Utility was awarded US Patent 9,246,898 "System and Method for Securely Distributing Legal Evidence".   Utility customers include Atlanta Gas Light, Atlanta Police, Bangor Hydro, Boston MBTA, Con Edison, Chicago Transit Authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dominion Power, Milwaukee Police, Los Angeles Department of Sanitation, and 150+ other customers in the US.

Contact: Jake Mendlinger
Office: (516) 829-8374 / Cell: (516) 639-3373

SOURCE Utility