How Long Do Police Keep Dash Cam Videos?

How Long Do Police Keep Dash Cam Videos?

One of the most significant changes in law enforcement has been implementation and widespread use of body cameras for officers.


These cameras record videos that can be used during trials, helping build cases against suspected criminals or providing evidence to prove a defendant’s innocence.

Knowing what happens to these videos after they are recorded is essential.

If you have been in an encounter with Police, you may wonder how long Police keep dash cam video and whether it still exists after your case has gone before a judge.

How long do Police keep dash cam videos?

The general retention period for dash cam footage among law enforcement agencies is 30 to 90 days, and the same is true for the body cameras they have.

The time that police departments preserve the recordings captured by dash cams varies according to several circumstances, including local legislation and whether or not the videos are relevant to an active investigation or court case.

Even if legislation restricts the amount of time that Police can ordinarily hold dash cams, the authorities may be able to get exemptions for cases that take significantly longer to resolve than on average.

Regarding the question of how long do Police keep dash cam video, one must also understand that the laws surrounding dash cam video retention vary significantly from state to state and sometimes even from department to department within the same state.

The rules for police departments differ depending on how long they’ve been in use, who funds them, and whether or not there’s an established protocol regarding their use—or whether any such protocols exist.

For example, New York City has some of the country’s most lenient laws regarding dash cam retention.

While Police are required to keep relevant recordings for 90 days no matter what, footage from non-critical incidents can be deleted immediately upon request by a citizen or after two weeks if no one has asked for it yet (although some departments have opted instead for an annual purge of all such footage).

In contrast, California requires law enforcement agencies using recording devices on patrol cars to keep all recordings indefinitely unless they are determined to be legally exempt under certain circumstances outlined by existing criminal justice codes.

Rules may vary from one jurisdiction to another?

The rules regarding how long do Police keep dash cam videos, vary from one jurisdiction or state to another.

Some jurisdictions may have more stringent rules than others, and the rules may also vary from one state to another.

For example, some states require that dash cam video be deleted after a certain period. In other instances, you may be able to request that your footage be erased if it will not be used in court.

Even within a single jurisdiction or county, there may be differences between departments regarding policies and procedures.

For example,  one police department might choose to keep all footage indefinitely while another department might delete it after 90 days or six months.

How vital are dash cam videos to the Police?

Police dash cam videos are now widely used in criminal cases and lawsuits. Dash cam videos are a great source of evidence for criminal cases and lawsuits.

Some police departments must keep them for a certain amount of time, but there is no federal law regarding how police departments must keep long dash cam video.

Police use dash cam videos as evidence in criminal cases, internal investigations, and civil lawsuits against officers.

So regarding how long do police keep dash cam videos depends on one the crime or the case that the police departments are handling at that time.

Some agencies allow individuals to request copies of their body camera footage.

Suppose you are the subject of body camera footage. In that case, you may be able to request a copy of your video footage or have an officer or professional department review the footage with you.

You can also request that officers delete footage related to an arrest or incident involving a criminal charge.

To request these things, follow these steps:

Contact the police agency with your camera on file and ask them to send you a copy of your video file.

Include your full name, date of birth, and driver’s license number (if available).

They will then send a release letter authorizing them to give this information over without having to notify anyone else who might be involved in the recorded incident.

If there are multiple people in the video file, but one person is requesting it for themselves, say so explicitly in both the letter requesting their release as well as when sending them back any correspondence about this issue from now on; otherwise, they may assume that everyone pictured is requesting their copy simultaneously regardless of what they intend!

Be aware that if someone else requests access instead (such as an attorney representing someone else), they must do so within 60 days after receiving notice from law enforcement agencies regarding disclosure policies surrounding body cam videos taken by law enforcement throughout California.”

Why don’t police departments keep the videos from dash cams indefinitely?

Having seen the answer to how long do Police keep dash cam videos, the next question is, why don’t they keep video footage from dash cam indefinitely? Let us find out.

The cost of maintaining such a large amount of video data makes it impractical for police departments to preserve dash cam films indefinitely.

According to the Department of Justice, more than one million people are working as law enforcement in the United States.

Officers often work a 40-hour week and collect actual video footage. This is the case even if most officers do not spend their entire shifts in their patrol cars with the dashboard camera actively recording.

Considering this reasoning, we will presume that they record approximately 1800 minutes of footage each week.

The file size of a typical 1080p video, which is the quality that most recordings made by police departments are made in, is approximately 20 megabytes each minute.

This means that each week, a single officer will record approximately 36,000 megabytes, which is equivalent to approximately 36 gigabytes.

When that number is multiplied by nearly one million officers, the amount of video data generated each week is well in excess of 36 petabytes.

If Police are using dash cams with a resolution of 4k or above, that number is around four times greater. Hence it is impossible for the police department to keep a dash cam indefinitely.

Bottom Line

Individual departments have different policies, but in general, most agencies store dash cam video for anywhere between 30 to 90 days.

If a police department must provide dash cam footage to the public, it usually has to be requested through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

We believe that we have been able to give you a satisfying answer to the question how long do Police keep dash cam videos.

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