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When you’re stuck between a FOIA request and a tight deadline, let someone else do the heavy lifting

Veritone’s AI-powered video redaction service provided by industry professionals accelerates redaction securely while freeing your staff to focus on core duties

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Veritone’s redaction software automatically blurs personal identifiable information so agencies can quickly comply with public records requests. For agencies dealing with large requests on a tight deadline, Veritone’s Redaction Managed Service can do the work for you.

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By Laura Neitzel, Police1 BrandFocus Staff

The volume of audio and video evidence captured today by body-worn and in-car cameras, along with CCTV, doorbell and smartphone videos collected by public and private sources, grows daily at an unprecedented rate. This mound of digital evidence remains invaluable in helping law enforcement investigate crimes and identify potential threats.

The media also helps law enforcement agencies exonerate officers from wrongdoing – or hold them accountable for misdeeds. An agency’s willingness to document police-public interactions and make them public, whether voluntarily or when requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), helps build trust with the communities they serve.

But whether it’s to build evidence for a criminal case or provide transparency around highly charged incidents, the volume of audio and video files and the need for secure data storage has increased exponentially – as have the time and resources needed to make the digital evidence usable.

The ease with which digital media is recorded and widely, and instantly, shared has also created a false expectation that law enforcement agencies can quickly comply with public records requests as easily as a teenager publishing a video on TikTok.

The reality is much more complicated.

Before digital evidence can be released to the public, law enforcement has the responsibility to protect the privacy of bystanders, witnesses and law enforcement officers whose image, license plate, name or other personal identifiable information (PII) is visible.

Adding a layer of complexity, any delay in releasing video and audio after a controversial incident can also breed mistrust. Agencies are required to produce and deliver redacted files in anywhere between three and 30 days, depending on state-specific statutes or court orders.

This leaves many law enforcement agencies stuck between a rock and a hard place when needing to respond to FOIA requests in a timely manner with limited resources.

Use AI to free the humans for the important stuff

Most law enforcement agencies don’t have the extra trained personnel necessary to spend hours redacting PII to fulfill a FOIA request, especially in a compressed time frame.

Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) can do the repetitive, detail-oriented work of identifying pertinent moments in what could be hours of audio and video evidence, and then take on the time-consuming task of redacting PII from every frame. This expedites the process by narrowing down the evidence to only items that meet certain human-defined criteria while obscuring sensitive imagery or audio.

For instance, say law enforcement has pulled over a driver suspected of driving under the influence. The software automation blurs or bleeps PII like the driver’s license number, birth date or license plate while preserving the record of the interaction (suspect slurring or being belligerent, officer being respectful and following policy).

Time is of the essence

Current events show that incidents involving a great amount of audio and video recordings needing to be analyzed can happen anywhere. Some larger departments may be better positioned to have internal dedicated staff, but for those with fewer resources or under intense scrutiny or tight deadlines, Veritone’s digital evidence redaction service comes to the rescue.

Agencies can upload evidence in any standard audio or video format and provide guidelines for what they are looking to identify or redact, and Veritone’s team of qualified professionals takes it from there. Your agency receives completely redacted evidence in a matter of days instead of weeks, without diverting internal resources to reviewing hours of video footage or investing in tools or software that may only be needed once.

The redacted files are returned to you along with an audit log to support chain of custody requirements and can be shared with command staff, prosecutors, public defenders and other key stakeholders.

Taking the burden off staff

Even for agencies that use in-house Veritone Redact on a regular basis, sometimes a court order or FOIA deadline requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.

“We had a recent situation in which we had to deliver redacted video evidence in a very tight time frame,” said Sgt. Sal Lombardo from West Sacramento Police Department in California. “While we do have internal resources to redact audio and video, Veritone’s Redaction Managed Service got it done much more quickly, according to our specifications, and without the additional stress on staff.”

In the Vacaville Police Department, a police department in northern California, every officer multitasks. “We had a backlog of over 250 hours of video from a few public records requests. We didn’t have the personnel available to complete such a large project in the timelines that were required by California’s public records laws. Utilizing Veritone’s Redaction Managed Service was extremely easy starting from the file delivery process all the way to the approval and final steps. Veritone’s professional staff were able to complete the entire project quickly,” said Lt. Bryan Larsen.

Whether you have in-house capacity to use Veritone Redact or need to outsource the service to a trusted partner, Veritone Redaction Managed Service helps law enforcement agencies alleviate workflow bottlenecks and fulfill their core mission while responding quickly and transparently to FOIA and media requests.

“Veritone Redaction Managed Service has really helped our agency tread that fine line between being responsive to requests for evidence while not overburdening our staff with the responsibility to do so in a time frame that impacts our core mission,” said Larsen. “I consider that a wise use of agency resources and taxpayer money.”

Visit Veritone for more information.

Read next: What the public doesn’t know influences its trust in police

Laura Neitzel is Director of Branded Content for Lexipol, where she produces written and multimedia branded content of relevance to a public safety audience, including law enforcement, fire, EMS and corrections. She holds degrees in English from the University of Texas and the University of North Texas, and has over 20 years’ experience writing and producing branded and educational content for nationally-recognized companies, government agencies, non-profits and advocacy organizations.