Releasing redacted footage in a timely manner is a growing concern for many law enforcement agencies. The growth in this need has been largely driven by an increasing volume of public records and FOIA requests in the United States, as well as GDPR requests in European countries. Additionally, agencies typically must also redact footage that is released to media outlets. Alongside this growing volume of footage that must be redacted, the required redactions for each piece of footage have grown in number and complexity.
Many agencies believe this issue is directly caused by the implementation of a body worn camera program, as implementation directly increases the volume of footage produced. However, this only tends to be true for sub-par body worn camera and redaction software solutions. In those cases, it is common to have multiple full-time staff dedicated solely to redacting and releasing footage. Furthermore, the tools that these staff members use are often off-the-shelf video editing programs that are not designed with redaction, or body worn camera integration, in mind. The result is that staff spend the majority of their time performing repetitive manual redacting of objects, sometimes frame-by-frame. Even if an agency opts to go with a more specialized or integrated redaction software package, the result is often an expensive product that is difficult to learn, and still requires a significant time investment to produce results.
At Visual Labs, we have opted for a different approach with our redaction platform. Once a video has been uploaded to our evidence management website, it can be imported into our FastRedaction system with a couple of clicks. When a video is imported into FastRedaction, the user can choose to have all of the faces within the video automatically redacted. This results in significant time savings for staff since redacting faces is often the most tedious part of the redaction process. Once the video has its faces redacted, touch-ups, un-redactions and manual redactions can be easily applied. FastRedaction offers a simple click-and-drag interface for manual redacting, as well as a wide variety of keyboard shortcuts that allow users to make quick work of their caseload. Additionally, the system can automatically follow and redact objects (such as license plates or sensitive papers), leading to even more time savings. FastRedaction can also redact audio by either muting, bleeping or disguising it.
Once a video has been sufficiently redacted, it can be imported back into the Visual Labs evidence management website with a single click. From there, the redacted copy of the video can be shared using Visual Labs’ existing sharing features. The integration of redaction into the Visual Labs evidence management platform allows agencies to keep on top of their redaction caseload, maintain secure audit trails, and reduce turnaround time from weeks to days. Thanks to Visual Labs’ automatic footage upload feature, a body camera video recorded by an officer in the field could be redacted and released to the media in a matter of minutes, all while the officer continued the shift as usual.