Phoenix Police Reveal Body Camera Data Estimates, Management Costs

Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 5:08am
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A Phoenix police officer wearing a body camera.
Christina Estes/KJZZ
The Phoenix Police Department currently has 300 body-worn cameras.

The city of Phoenix estimates it will cost more than $11 million to equip every police officer with a body-worn camera in a three-year period. The costs go far beyond the cameras themselves.

Much of the money would cover the costs of storing data. During Tuesday’s policy session, Assistant Chief Mike Kurtenbach told council members that having a camera on every officer is expected to generate about 40 terabytes of data every month.

“Let me put it to you this way," he said. "One terabyte is capable of holding approximately 4.5 million 200-page books.” 

And someone has to manage all that data for public records requests and court cases. The police and city prosecutor estimate they’ll need to hire 30 to 40 people to review videos and redact certain images. 

“So think if an officer who responds to a burglary call at your home, at a friend’s home," Kurtenbach said. "Think of what that camera might capture. That camera could capture pictures that include minor children. It could include diplomas hanging on the wall. All of that information must be blurred before that body-worn camera video is released.” 

Arizona state law allows a person 180 days after an action to file a claim against a public entity or public employee and according to a city of Phoenix report, the Arizona Law Enforcement Recordings Work Group determined that all work-related body-worn camera videos must be retained for at least 185 days after the actual date of recording. The Phoenix Police Department policy calls for the recordings to be kept for no less than 190 days.

About 140 officers currently wear cameras, and most work out of the Maryvale precinct. From Aug. 15, 2015 to March, 11, 2016, the Department's Body-Worn Camera Unit processed 448 individual video requests from city and county prosecutors, public records and other sources. The 448 requests resulted in 3,269 individual video files sent to the requestors.

Council members are expected to vote on the budget next month.