- Associated Press - Friday, June 12, 2015

BALTIMORE (AP) - Baltimore’s decision to save surveillance footage of Freddie Gray’s arrest and the unrest that followed has significantly reduced the storage capacity of some cameras on the city’s closed-circuit system, shrinking the time police have to save footage to help with other criminal investigations, a newspaper reported Friday.

The capacity of some of the city’s 700 cameras has been reduced from 28 days to three, The Baltimore Sun (https://bsun.md/1MxaXPR) reported in a story posted online. That means the CitiWatch footage is erased after 72 hours unless police save it. Other cameras’ capacity has been reduced to a lesser degree, the newspaper reported.

A police spokesman, Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, would not say how many cameras have been affected or where they are located.

A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Kevin Harris, says officials examined their options and decided cutting some cameras’ retention capacity was the best. Other options such as copying the information were deemed not feasible for now, Harris said. Harris said part of the reason they decided against copying the information onto external hard drives or saving it to a “cloud”-based storage system was that it would involve temporarily stopping the cameras from recording, “potentially leaving a blind spot in the crime fight.”

The city plans to purchase $140,000 worth of new hardware for long-term storage, Harris said, but he said he didn’t know when it would be in place.

Harris and Kowalczyk would not say when the capacity of city-owned cameras was reduced.

The paper reports police have relied on footage from the cameras to make arrests in more than 1,000 cases a year. It said the city spends about $1.8 million annually on camera system maintenance, paid for with state funds and private casino funds. The Department of Homeland Security largely funded getting the system off the ground in 2005.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, https://www.baltimoresun.com

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