In the past decade, video footage has entered the court as familiar evidence. With closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) in most public spaces, the general public needs privacy in light of legal proceedings. At Primeau Forensics, we offer audio and video redaction services to support privacy during litigation.
What is Video Redaction?
When video footage becomes evidence, there is often information or people included in the clip that doesn’t relate to the case. This footage might come from a CCTV or a body-worn camera. Whatever the circumstances may be, audio and video redaction are methods to remove content not valuable to the court.
Redaction is the intentional removal or concealment of information in a multimedia recording. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for redaction of digital recordings and associated data, which may include video, audio, and metadata streams. The application of redactions may include, but are not limited to, video recorded by body-worn cameras, in-car video systems, digital video recorder systems, 9-1-1 phone calls, jail calling services, crime scene video, and video evidence collected during an investigation.
As with paper documents, it is common for an organization to redact confidential information, content graphic in nature, or information safeguarded by privacy provisions prior to release outside the organization. SWGDE Video and Audio Redaction Guidelines Ver. 2.0 PG. 4
As a practice of video forensics, video redaction must maintain the footage’s integrity while filtering out the unimportant content. This method ensures the video clip is still accurate and factual without disrespecting individual privacy.
The Freedom of Information Act is the law that keeps citizens informed about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA, unless it falls under exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.
Our Video Redaction Services
Video or CCTV redaction can include a series of processes, such as blurring out faces, names, license plate numbers, addresses or other sensitive information. Audio redaction services, such as muting the audio, may even be necessary if the footage contains dialogue.
When you choose Primeau Forensics, we work with the judge’s order to determine the best course of action. Depending on the circumstances and content of the video, certain methods are better than others.
For example, footage may benefit from a full blur to keep the entire frame out of focus. In public spaces with many people, this option works well, as you can still follow actions or dialogue throughout the clip.
On the other hand, facial blur might be better when there are small actions valuable to court, but you want to blur the individual faces of people. This is a more labor-intensive practice that may not always be necessary — but could be more effective.
We will discuss your options based on the video you present and what the judge orders.
Types of Video Redaction:
Medical redaction is the scientific process of masking audio, video and images from digital media recordings created in hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and other clinical type settings. Medical redaction is a somewhat automated and often manual process that requires a hands-on approach of removing people’s faces, HIPAA objects like paperwork on the desks, wall signage, and other private information from CCTV video recordings. Routine facial blurring of individuals who are not part of the event or FOIA request requires mapping and tracking features that are manually added to accommodate FOIA mandate.
Police Dashcam Redaction
Police dashcam redaction is the scientific process of removing non-FOIA audio and video content from FOIA requested police dashcam recordings. There is a recent increase in the use of police dashcam systems, all of which generate recordings by law enforcement officers that may be involved in litigation. These recordings often include non-FOIA compliant information, such as faces of bystanders, license plates, crime scene details still under investigation, as well as dialogue transmitted over the radio by officers, such as cell phone numbers unrelated to the recorded events. Most police dashcam systems record both audio and video, both of which may have to be redacted or removed. Audio sources include dispatch audio and officer-worn body microphones.
Police Body Camera Redaction
Police body camera redaction is the scientific process of removing non FOIA audio and video content from FOIA requested police body camera recordings. Since body cameras may be department-issued or privately-owned, each law enforcement agency should have a guidebook of standard operating procedures that regulate the acquisition and storage of all body camera recordings.
There is a large increase in the use of police worn body cameras that create a tremendous amount of content subject to redaction. These recordings are often released to the media and are subject of scrutiny by everyone involved. Often the media trims or edits body camera content to represent a portion of the event. The body cameras may generate recordings by law enforcement officers that will be involved in litigation. These recordings often include non FOIA compliant information like bystanders faces, license plates, crime scene details still under investigation as well as dialogue spoken by law enforcement officers that is not related to the events being recorded.
Police Interview Redaction
Police interview redaction is the scientific process of removing non FOIA audio and video content from FOIA requested police interview recordings. These recordings my include non FOIA compliant information as well as judge orders of removal instructions before any video recording is released. Investigations should be completed before any police interview video, redacted or otherwise, can be released.
Police interview redaction is a somewhat automated and often manual process that requires a hands-on approach. Since the persons are most always not moving in this type of video, the redaction process is less laborious. In this case, we blur lips where words that are redacted have been removed. This is to honor the judges request for removal of information.
Why Is Video Redaction Important?
With video recording happening in various public spaces, citizens end up in court footage all the time. In a legal setting, judges and law enforcement have to protect the community from crime while maintaining the privacy of those uninvolved.
Video redaction is crucial to the privacy of people unrelated to a case. It keeps uninvolved people safe and complies with privacy laws. Video redaction services are also valuable to undercover police officers — it keeps their identity private, so they can maintain their position’s secrecy.
The Cost of Our Services
The costs of our services depend on the type of redaction we need to perform. In civil court cases, the requesting party is often responsible for the price. These services can become involved when there are many people in the footage, which can increase costs.
We’re focused on finding the best redaction methods for your video without driving the cost beyond your means. We’ll ask the right questions and identify the most economical way to redact information without abandoning individual privacy. And in an effort to do so, we offer a free preliminary video consultation to our prospective redaction clients that complies with FOIA and HIPPA requirements.
Contact Primeau Forensics for CCTV Redaction
Primeau Forensics has experience with a range of attorneys, investigators and government agencies. We also have the skills necessary for comprehensive and legal video redaction. Contact us today online or by phone at (800) 647-4281 to learn more about our services and to schedule a free video consultation.