Techies troubleshoot Seattle Police Department video problem

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SEATTLE — With officers hitting the streets wearing body cameras, the Seattle Police Department is turning to tech experts to find innovative ways to respond faster to public records requests for video.

University of Washington students, Microsoft employees, and other companies took part in the SPD “Hack-a-thon” on Friday.

“We are talking about getting tremendous amounts of video out to the public in a way everyone can grab,” Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told the presenters at police headquarters.

The city is focusing on ways to speed up the process of blurring faces of innocent people and transcribing audio.

Over a five-year period, patrol car cameras have captured 314,636 hours of video. The police department already has 1,612,554 videos saved on servers. And with the addition of body cameras, that number will increase.

Data pix.

“The ability to create digital records like this has completely outstripped the ability to redact and process them,” said Mary Perry of the City Attorney’s Office.

Due to Washington state privacy laws, video specialists often spend upwards of a half-hour removing faces and voices of victims, witnesses, and juveniles for just one minute of video.

"Protecting people's privacy is so important," said Mayor Ed Murray.

During the meeting, presenters showed police ways to reduce the time it takes to redact video and make it available to the public.

Starting this weekend, Seattle Police will launch a body camera pilot program. A dozen officers from the East Precinct will test out several different types of cameras over a 4-6 month period.

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1 Comment

  • tfg

    Very interesting and even though cameras may impede officers’ ability to do their jobs, it will protect them from false accusations. Unfortunately, I predict this country will wind up like the UK where inmates are given a customer service survey upon leaving jail in which they are asked if they were comfortable and happy there. So police will need to approach criminals as “customers” and we all know how, “the customer is always right.” At any rate, it’s a great idea to just allow us to download all the videos. All that indisputable evidence of how certain types of people behave will be out there for all to see now.

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