Are Corporate Surveillance Video Policies Hampering Police Investigations?

I came across this piece from a Charlotte, NC TV station.

The claim being made by the LE person being interviewed is that corporate surveillance policies are inhibiting their ability to investigate crimes by making them wait for the release of video until they can get a judge to sign a warrant mandating it's release.

However, it seems as if this policy differs depending on what was recorded.

For instance, if the crime in question occurred on the premises of the the business that owns the cameras - the business generally releases their video immediately so the cops can begin to investigate.

But if the cameras from this same corporate entity record a crime occurring on some other, neighboring business' premises, their policy requires LE to get a warrant for them to release this video.

The difference in the policy based on where the crime occurs bugs me... what do you think?

Not one of my customers, but in my backyard.

Yes, the reporter and the LE official are correct.

Video clips do require a warrant if the crime does not involve the customer directly, by policy. Still frames are generally released with a statement of disclaimer on them. I write them all the time.

I have had some customers release still frames and videos of suspects only to find out it was the person next to them, just prior to or after the suspect in line.

I set up a hidden system for a customer in Charlotte a few years ago to capture evidence of a repeated biohazard event by an UNSUB ( I always wanted to write that !). The suspect was captured on video doing exactly what we suspected. I was out of town at the time, but I had strongly urged the customer to contact me when/if the event happened again before releasing any evidence. They chose to ignore my advice and release the video to the police and the media. The video was of the offender, but incorrectly identified him as an employee of a different vendor (turns out jackets can be picked up at a thrift store). The customer, in his zeal for vengeance, released the video anyway and threatened a lawsuit. The incorrectly identified vendor countered with their own lawsuit if a public retraction was not issued. Pretty embarrassing for our customer.

The part of the policy that bugs you is manufactured by the legal department, but minimizing risk and exposure is what they get paid to do.

I get that the legal people want to protect their business from damage - that is a given.

But how does the physical location of the crime (i.e. their property vs their neighbors property) change the companies position in regards to liability if the activity is captured on their cameras that face public areas?

This is what 'bugs me'. imo, what happens on this companies recorded video should be covered under one universal policy.

1. Get a warrant coppers.


2. Let me burn you a copy of this video I recorded in an open area accessible by the general public officer.

Can you explain why the company would be exposed to greater risk by releasing video of crimes occurring on their neighbors property vs the risk they are exposed to by releasing video of crimes occurring on their own property?

I did not say I liked it or agreed with it, just that it is out there and accepted, usually at the advice of counsel. If you want a better understanding of their reasoning, you probably need to direct that question to a lawyer. ;) probably need to direct that question to a lawyer. ;)

Or at least Ken Kirschenbaum....

What does your disclaimer look like? Would like an example, please.