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One-quarter of all body-worn camera footage from the Oakland, California, police was accidentally deleted in October 2014, according to the head of the relevant unit.
As per the San Francisco Chronicle, Sgt.
Dave Burke testified on Tuesday at a murder trial that this was, in fact, a mistake.
This incident marks yet another setback in the efforts to roll out body-worn cameras to police agencies nationwide.
In late August 2016, the Seattle Police Department reported a similar IT glitch involving body camera footage.
“Nothing should have ever been lost from the system,” Burke said in court, later adding, “The settings were set to never delete.”
However, a police spokesman, Marco Marquez, told the Chronicle that the Oakland Police Department had not “discovered any cases that have been affected by this incident.”
Neither the OPD nor the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment.
As the Chronicle reported:
Instead of hitting “preserve everything,” the IT employees mistakenly checked a box marked “preserve,” Deputy District Attorney Butch Ford, who is prosecuting the murder case, explained Tuesday outside court.
A month later, Burke said, officers realized there was a problem when they searched for a video and couldn’t view it. Metadata revealed that 25 percent of all videos that had been captured since the start of the body-camera program in 2009 were wiped out.
A backup system had been purchased but hadn’t been set up.
“The revelation that we mistakenly deleted all this body camera data tracks a concern we raised during the Domain Awareness Center debate—can the City of Oakland be trusted with our data?” Brian Hofer, chair of the City of Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission, told Ars.
“As law enforcement moves to collect more and more info about our lives, how do we ensure accuracy, security, and preservation of data when necessary, such as exculpatory evidence?” Hofer continued. “A single mistake can land someone’s profile on a No Fly List or in the CalGang database, with devastating consequences.”