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How long should police keep body cam videos?

In the wake of high profile, officer involved shootings over the past three years, a number of police agencies have adopted the use of body cameras that would ostensibly record sensitive moments between the police and the public. Indeed, there are still debates over whether officers should have the cameras rolling at all times, or only during certain situations, but a larger debate looms over how long footage from an encounter should be kept.

In Michigan, there are rules as to how long public records should be maintained by state and local agencies, but these rules may not apply to law enforcement agencies with regard to footage generated by police body cameras. 

This question could be important for those who are seeking critical information (and possibly incriminating videos) that could disappear before it is transferred to a plaintiff’s attorney in a civil suit, or a defense attorney in a criminal matter.  It has been discussed that a 30 day minimum rule be imposed, but it remains to be seen whether the rule will be made effective or expanded.

Regardless of the eventual rule, it exemplifies the need to have an experienced lawyer to represent you through the process if you are charged with a crime. A skilled attorney will know when and how to request information from the prosecution that could be critical to your case. This is especially important given the weight of credibility commonly given to law enforcement officers.

As such, if you have been arrested and charged with a crime, and you believe that it is based on false information provided by the police, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer

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